Community, Local, Organizations, Park Forest

A Community Rebuilds: Volunteers Renovate Homes for Park Forest Residents

Employees of Cook County Volunteer to Update and Repair Homes in Park Forest

Park Forest, IL-(ENEWSPF)- When volunteers renovate Park Forest homes, the whole community benefits. Two homeowners celebrated Saturday significant renovations to their homes, which were completed by Rebuilding Together Metro Chicago. Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle joined Mayor Joseph Woods and other officials to spotlight the residents and volunteers who completed the Rebuilding Together projects in the village.

One of the resident recipients of the work of Rebuilding Together, Ms. Jane Donovan, has lived in Park Forest for 17 years. The second recipient, Ms. Rosemary Irons-Lewis, hosted the event outside her home.. President Preckwinkle said Ms. Irons-Lewis “spent many years serving the people of Cook County” in the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Program Helps Older Homeowners Stay Safe and Comfortable in Their Homes

Jane Donovan thanks God
Jane Donovan thanks God and the volunteers who helped renovate her home. The other homeowner who benefited, Rosemary Irons-Lewis, stands behind her with her granddaughter. (Screenshot: Cook County Video)

Rebuilding Together Metro Chicago assists older, disabled, and low-income residents with home repairs, helping them remain in their homes.

President Preckwinkle said this year’s work included installing “new elements in the kitchen and bathroom, upgrading light fixtures, and installing new windows, among many other things.” She said the teams focused on “safe-at-home repairs” that allow the older residents to “stay in their homes comfortably.”

“Our team even took care to plant and landscape,” President Preckwinkle said.

Volunteers Renovate: Transforming Homes, Strengthening Community

Mayor Joseph Woods said, “We know that the desire to live in a warm, safe, and independent community is the very thing that binds us as a people and as a community.”

“This is what community engagement looks like,” the mayor said. “This is what community participation feels like.”

In addition to Mayor Joseph Woods, Cook County Commissioner Donna Miller attended the event. With them were Glenn Charles, Rebuilding Together Board President; Bilqis Jacobs-El, Director of Facilities Management, and Wanda Ramirez, Executive Director of Rebuilding Together Metro Chicago.

Glenn Charles Jr., Board President of Rebuilding Together Metro Chicago, said, “This has always been a selfish endeavor for me because I grew up in Inglewood, which is one of the communities that we’re supporting today.” Mr. Charles said Rebuilding Together worked on 85 homes this year. Over 1,500 volunteers assisted in the projects, he said.

Homeowners Thrilled with Home Improvements by Volunteers

Rosemary Irons-Lewis, volunteers renovate
Rosemary Irons-Lewis expresses her gratitude for the volunteer effort. (Screenshot: Cook County Video)

Ms. Rosemary Irons-Lewis was the first homeowner-recipient to speak. “You have restored my faith in humanity for your selflessness to give back to others,” she said. “This program is truly a blessing and a life-changing experience that I will always remember. Thank you.”

Ms. Jane Donovan began her remarks by saying, “God is good. I want to give honor to Him first of all.” She thanked Rebuilding Together and “all the trades” that helped renovate her home and “all the workers that were involved, donating their time and energy.”

President Preckwinkle toured the two homes in Park Forest. Volunteers from the Cook County Government and other firms and companies completed the renovations. In partnership with Rebuilding Together Metro Chicago, skilled tradespeople lend their craftsmanship and expertise to assist older, disabled, and low-income residents.

These renovations allow older residents to stay in their homes and live safely and independently. This is the 33rd year Cook County has participated in this initiative.

This year, County volunteers from the Capital Planning and Policy, Facilities Management, and Highways and Transportation departments conducted major renovations on the two homes, including painting and drywall installation, electric work, heating and air conditioning upgrades, window replacement, and other repair work. Both homes also underwent much-needed accessibility upgrades, such as grab bars, handrails, and other safety features.

Officials Express Gratitude

Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle serves as honorary chair of Rebuilding Together Metro Chicago. “We are so grateful for the hard work of our Cook County employees for their dedication to this cause each year,” said President Preckwinkle. “They selflessly donate their skills and talents to give back to our most deserving residents. Their hard work combined with generous sponsorship and donations makes this truly a team effort.”

“Cook County’s continued investment in the communities we serve is truly making a lasting impact on the quality of life for its residents,” said Wanda Ramirez, Executive Director of Rebuilding Together Metro Chicago. “We are grateful for the incredible leadership of President Toni Preckwinkle and her support of this important annual event, and we truly appreciate the continuing participation of Cook County employees who selflessly donate their time, talent and skills for the benefit of others during our National Rebuilding Day efforts each year.”

The County contributed $100,000 to Rebuilding Together Metro Chicago this year through its Community Development Block Grant program. Employees who are tradespeople of various unions assisted in the renovations. These included:

  • Laborers Local 1092,
  • Electricians Local 134,
  • Plumbers Local 130,
  • Carpenters Local 1256,
  • and Painters District Council #14,

Along with Cook County, sponsors of home repairs in Park Forest include TRANE, Ashlaur Construction, Old Veteran Construction, F.H. Paschen, Paul Borg, S. Mechanical, Knickerbocker Roofing & Paving Company, Lowes, Windy City Chapter of Jack and Jill of America and Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. Upsilon Rho Chapter at Governors State University.

Video: Volunteers Renovate Park Forest Homes

Material for this article also came from a Cook County Board news release.