Good deeds beget others on North Eighth Avenue

 Posse of volunteers convenes for front-yard makeover

By Kathleen Brady Shea, Managing Editor, The Times

A group of volunteers work to make a home in the unit block of North Eighth Avenue less inviting to vandals.

A group of high-energy volunteers work to make a home in the unit block of North Eighth Avenue less inviting to vandals.

A well-placed complaint produced a Coatesville home spruce-up that would be envied by TV remodeling gurus for its efficiency and enthusiasm.

The makeover project evolved during a recent meeting of the Bridge Academy and Community Center’s Mom’s Club, said Jordan Crans, the nonprofit’s executive director. Coatesville Police Officer Rodger Ollis had been invited to speak, and he elicited feedback about community concerns from the attendees.

Susan A. Jones, a Mom’s Club regular who lives in the unit block of North Eighth Avenue, commented that she was growing weary of being a target for vandals. After Ollis asked some questions about whether her residence was well-lit and whether it had any overgrown shrubbery, Jones acknowledged some deficiencies in those areas.

During a recent interview, she explained that she had inherited the home when her mother, who had lived there for 42 years, died in December 2010. Jones had worked at Brandywine Hospital until she was sidelined by kidney problems, and although she was fortunate enough to get a transplant, she now deals with failing eyesight. That makes home repairs a challenge, she said.

Jennifer Kasitz (left) and Susan A. Jones work on priming Jones' front porch.

Jennifer Kasitz (left) and Susan A. Jones work on priming Jones’ front porch.

Crans said as Jones described her problems, a plan started to take root – one that even featured plants and landscaping. “We thought we could get some people together to help,” Crans said.

On Friday, a posse of makeover maestros from Bridge Academy and beyond assembled in Jones’ front yard. As the eight-member crew began dismantling worn portions of the front porch, replacing broken fence posts, and removing uninvited vines, Jones shook her head in disbelief – after she put down the paintbrush she was using to prime the porch rails.

“I didn’t really expect this,” Jones said. “I really appreciate it. It’s a blessing.”

Crans said the date was selected before the heat wave entered the forecast, but the blistering sun resulted in one good deed begetting another.  Al Elliott, a proud, longtime member of the nearby Highway Cruisers Motorcycle Club, stopped his truck to distribute iced tea. “I see y’all getting’ it done here,” he said. “I thought you could use this.”

Elliott was not the only Good Samaritan. Crans said Sherwin Williams donated the paint, and Heidi Bowman, a Mom’s Club mentor, selected the colors: Meadow Trail, a sage green, and Row House Tan, a buttery beige. She also brought reinforcements: her husband, Scott Bowman; daughter-in-law Martha Bowman; and Jennifer Kasitz, a friend with landscaping expertise.

Scott Bowman (from left) and Tyler Changaris cut new fence boards for Jones'  front yard.

Scott Bowman (from left) and Tyler Changaris cut new fence boards for Jones’ front yard.

The Coatesville Police Department contributed a motion-detecting light fixture, and others who requested anonymity donated materials such as wood and flowers, Crans said.  The crew – which also included Ollis; Josh Crans, a Bridge Academy board member and Jordan’s husband; and Tyler Changaris, its assistant director – brought truckloads of supplies, including power saws and ladders.

The group of renovators agreed that, like most home-improvement  projects, what initially appeared to be a one-day operation would definitely require at least another full day.

“I’m hoping some of the neighbors will be inspired by this,” Jones said. “I can’t wait to see how it turns out. I’m very excited.”





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  1. Patti says:

    It’s a beautiful story. There’s a lot of good that goes on in Coatesville if only people would open their eyes to it. Take it from me it can be hard to see it amidst all of the bad but I’m learning. Way to go everyone who has helped this woman. God bless you all. 🙂

  2. Berta Rains says:

    I love this story. Giving is so uplifting to the giver and receiver. It is heartwarming to know that people turn their caring into action.

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