Week-Long Event Encourages Volunteerism

Columbia resident already sees positive impact

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By Monique Williams

COLUMBIA, S.C. (WOLO) -- The City of Columbia embarks on a project leaders believe could revolutionize the way you see volunteerism. One downtown Columbia resident is already feeling a positive impact, and the program hasn't even officially begun.

When asked why she has lived in the same house she was born in 87 years ago, Cornelia Fair quickly responds, "I didn't wanna move."

Fair says she was actually born was born in the house on Liberty Hill Avenue in Columbia, the same place she says her mother and father married.

"My mother and father worked very hard at this home."

Over the years, though, the house has taken a massive beating. Inside and outside, most of the home is barely functional. Today, that's changing.

"The siding will be fixed and replaced, the plastic will be taken down, and there are 18 broken pieces of glass that will be replaced," said construction sire leader, Rick Black. "A new screen door is coming up, and access doors will be fixed."

Columbia business leaders, volunteers and staff from HomeWorks, a non-profit that repairs houses at no charge, took a trolley ride to Fair's residence to get an up close and personal look at where their donor dollars are going.

"Oh it makes me feel good to know that I'm living to see how y'all gon' help me out," said Fair.

Officials tell ABC Columbia similar projects usually are one corporate sponsor per house. However, because the work on Fair's home is so labor intensive, they say, two companies signed on to help out.

"We give back all the time but we've never done a HomeWorks house and it was important to me we do it this year," said Regina Brown with Palmetto Health Richland, one of the companies that is donating $6,000 to the project.

"Knowing not everyone has it as good as we do give us a chance to keep ourselves honest," said Mike Meehan, with AgFirst Bank, donating $2,000 to the project.

Cornelia Fair's home will be completely redone this weekend. Saturday, April 20th, is the official one-week kick-off to the City's One Columbia City Serve volunteer campaign.

Leaders say the project encourages volunteerism by bridging the gap between the community, citizens and companies.

"We've got homes we have to cite [for not being up to code regulation]," said Sam Johnson, assistant to Mayor Steve Benjamin. "There are seniors in those homes, homes where homeowners are unable to make repairs that are needed, and that affects their quality of life."

Cornelia Fair agrees her quality of life just got a whole lot better.

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