By Naeisha Rose
Rebuilding Together NYC, a non-profit housing organization that rehabilitates homes and revitalizes communities, assisted in repairing longtime Springfield Gardens resident Jill McCoy’s house last week with Workforce Training Program trainees.
McCoy, 70, who is severely nearsighted, retired as a teacher in June and was happy to receive the free help in repairing her Hurricane Sandy-damaged home last Friday.
“We were in the dark, trees were down, half the roof came off… it was rough, it was very hard and we had lost everything,” said McCoy, who has lived in Springfield Gardens since 1990 with her two children, granddaughter and her husband, who was an Army veteran overseas in Germany in the 1950s.
Gutters and cable wires were also destroyed during the 2012 hurricane, according to McCoy.
“Fortunately, the old windows didn’t blow out, but they were badly damaged… because of all the wind, and the [cable] box ripped right off,” said McCoy, whose main concern was her late husband, who lost both his legs to diabetes and had hearing loss “from being the No. 1 cannoneer in the Army” before he retired in 1958.
Her husband, Willie Lee McCoy died on March 19, 2014, months after Rebuilding Together NYC started work on the roof of her house, when it was a much smaller organization and had very few funds.
“I came out here after a week for the storm and then I went back to my home and closed my business and came back to take this job for six months,” said Seattle native Terry Scott, the director of Construction of Rebuilding Together NYC of five years. “When I got here there were three people in the office and we didn’t have a director and no money. We got four $10,000 grants from Home Depot and the only thing we were able to do at the time was replace that roof.”
Rebuilding Together is now capable of doing up to $5 million a year in critical home repair across the five boroughs. It has 12 full-time staffers and two AmeriCorps fellows and teaches Workforce Training Program helps trainees who are underemployed or unemployed, according to a Rebuilding Together NYC spokesman.
The nearly dozen Workforce trainees who are learning about construction and hoping to secure union jobs within the industry are getting hands-on training from Scott. They fixed the inside of McCoy’s home, her backyard and her sidewalk, and they are repairing the siding of her house and the windows this week.
The full cost of the repairs to McCoy’s home, including the previous roof repair, will amount to around $60,000, according to Scott.
“The jobs in construction are booming and the work is there, and we help them get in there by providing basic skill sets and we help them to wrap their heads around what it means to be employable, what it means to get that job… and we try to get them practical experience,” Scott said about the trainees.
Trainees receive hard hats, steel-toed boots, gloves, goggles and tools. They also are exposed to three weeks in a classroom for OSHA training and different certifications.
Last week was Diamond Fore’s first week doing the hands-on training, and she came from the Bronx to help with the repairs and learn from Scott.
“This program gives me a chance to learn, to build and to better yourself,” said Fore, 24. “We learned math, how to use the tools, how to do measurements… This program will help me live, pay my rent and eat… and I just love construction and volunteering.”
Reach reporter Naeisha Rose by e-mail at nrose