22nd annual Kickoff to Rebuild repairs 6 Independence Heights homes

HOUSTON - Hundreds of volunteers at work, six homes repaired, a couple of NFL players involved and all of it done in one day in Houston's Independence Heights neighborhood. This is the 22nd annual Kickoff to Rebuild. It's an event that travels from city to city with the Super Bowl.

As big as it is, it pales in comparison to the work done year-round by Rebuilding Together.

“Rebuilding Together is nationwide. We have about 140 affiliates like the one here in Houston that we provide safe and healthy homes to homeowners,” said Caroline Blakely, president and CEO of Rebuilding Together.

Today, however, they're also working on the neighborhood as a whole.

“We have a welcome center that's being built. We have a food pantry that's being built. Community space being worked on,” Blakely said.

“We haven't had a welcoming center around here in so long,” Debbie White said.

Debbie grew up on East 35th Street and she's not the only one.

“This house was built in the 1930s by my grandparents,” White said.

Her mother, aunts, uncles and many of her cousins all  called this house home at some point. Over the years, however, the house fell into disrepair.

Problems arose with the roof, walls, floor, ceiling and insulation.

“And we had plumbing problems and electricity problems so my baby needed a full work-over,” White said.

White's dream is not only to have a revitalized home but to see the neighborhood as it once was, with neighbors knowing each other as they had when she was growing up.

“There were the Allens and Lewises, Ms. Jackson, the Bradleys, the Staffords and Mr. Jackson, the Hines, the Osbournes, the Dancies, Mr. Sirus. There was Rev. Green from the church, who would always tell, 'I'm going to tell your mom on you guys.' So everybody's, I mean, it was just families out here,” White said.

For the last three months, White has been unable to live in the house due to the needed repairs. After the project is complete, she'll be able to move back in.

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