“When neighborhoods look horrible, horrible things happen,” says Charlie Muller, pastor of Victory Christian Church. In the blighted South End of this state capital, “people could maintain their homes if they only had the resources.”
That was the idea behind the church’s seventh Make A Difference Day project: creating a “tool library” where neighbors could check out donated hammers, rakes, drills, saws and more, free of charge. On Oct. 22, Pastor Charlie and 16 volunteers began transforming a 600-square-foot section of an old warehouse the church owned. Volunteer Jim Hammerle, 70, a Schenectady contractor who attends the church, says the space went from “a filthy dungeon” to looking “like a Walmart.” He installed a heating system; others, including four county prisoners, hung insulation and lights, put in a new floor, and painted. Worked continued for several days.
The non-denominational church, just 18 years old, is known for serving its inner-city community. Programs include feeding hungry kids and buying back handguns. Its reach even extends to Haiti: For Make A Difference Day 2010, volunteers converted a shipping container into a fish market/cybercafé and sent it to the earthquake-ravaged country, where its proceeds support orphans. “We target Make A Difference Day for our most special projects,” says Pastor Charlie, 54.
The library needs more tools — although Sears has already made a large donation — but it’s already making a difference. “I borrowed hand tools to build a shed, and a ladder to deal with squirrels in my roof,” says homeowner Mackey Robinson, 65, one of at least 80 borrowers so far. “I can’t afford tools or hired help. We don’t have a lot in the ’hood, so this is an awesome idea.”
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