Community group assisting one house at a time

November 10, 2012

"They cleaned my garages out, where I kept my car," Jonson said. "I had so much junk in there I couldn't keep the car in there really."

Clearing out "the junk," as he calls it, is a much bigger job than Johnson could handle. Then he heard about a group called Neighborhoods, Inc.

"Our mission is to improve the neighborhoods of the Calumet region and that includes from like Blue Island to the east part of Gary," said executive director Keith Speaks.

In an effort called Operation Restoration, volunteers do yard work, make light repairs, clear out debris and perform other odds and ends for residents in the calumet region. Preference is given to the elderly, disabled and veterans. All of their services are free.

"A lot of older people, sometimes it's hard for them to say I need help," Speaks said. "You know that's my parents' generation, the greatest generation I think it was coined, and they like to be self-reliant. So sometimes you have to talk them into it even. "

"It's a burden off of me because I couldn't do it," Johnson said. "I would go down and look at it, but it's just there. You can't find anybody nowadays to do nothing like that."

Neighborhoods Inc. also works in public spaces, restoring parks and painting fire hydrants. The group is funded through the Foundations of East Chicago, which collects from casinos in northwest Indiana.

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