More than 200 volunteers, including 100 Lowe’s Heroes and NFL pro-bowler and Miami native, Frank Gore, completed repairs in nine homes and two community spaces in Miami ahead of Super Bowl LIV.
Hosted by Rebuilding Together, the community event, Kickoff to Rebuild, occurs annually in Super Bowl cities across the country. For the past 25 years, Rebuilding Together has partnered with the NFL during these Super Bowl events and has repaired more than 150 homes and engaged 5,000 volunteers.
Lowe’s has worked in partnership with Rebuilding Together for 13 years.
Repairs occurred in West Coconut Grove, or ‘The West Village,’ a historically black neighborhood developed in the 1880s.
For many years, the West Village thrived – everyone knew their neighbors and businesses were owned and operated by community members. However, in recent years, the community has experienced rapid development and gentrification. What was once a community of mostly modest shotgun and wood vernacular houses has quickly turned into street after street of ultra-modern duplexes. Now, descendants of the once flourishing community face the threat of losing homes built by their families and are fighting to keep their heritage intact.
“Kickoff to Rebuild keeps these long-standing community members safe from losing their homes to liens from code violations. Additionally, residents of each home will have a safe, healthy, and dry home which is particularly vital when hurricane season comes along,” said Travis Renville, executive director for Rebuilding Together Miami-Dade.
One of the nine homeowners receiving assistance was 88-year-old Mary Bryant, whose roof and windows were badly damaged by Hurricane Irma. Mary, who was born in the same house she now resides, has witnessed firsthand the phases of transformation that the neighborhood has experienced over the decades.
“There was a time when I knew everyone in the neighborhood but over time, some pioneers passed on and others decided to sell their homes and relocate to other places,” Mary explained. “That’s when the change came about.”
Nevertheless, she couldn’t imagine living anywhere else but Coconut Grove as she can still taste her father’s homemade sodas and smell her mother’s fruit cakes while sitting in her family room.
“My house has always been a priority for me; I would have never sold it,” Mary said. “There were times when people suggested I did so, but I’ve always sternly declined. Giving this home away would have meant giving myself away. It was never going to happen.”
“This project is meaningful because I’m from Miami and know how Coconut Grove prospered throughout the years, so it’s nice to be able to give back and participate in helping the community live safer and healthier,” explained Lowe’s district manager Paul Laurent.
“It has been a sincere pleasure to have a partner who really believes in our vision of safe homes and communities for everyone and will go above and beyond to get us one step closer to achieving that goal,” Travis said.
Some of the labor homes received bathroom tile work, kitchen renovations, painting, siding repair and replacement, landscaping, accessibility improvements and insulation for proper home weatherization.“I’m happy the Lord let me live to see the work done because it was truly needed,” Mary said. “It’s a blessing.”