Nonprofit makes a difference in Hurst, Euless, Bedford area

08/10/2014 3:52 PM

08/10/2014 3:53 PM

Anna Maria Sanchez likes to keep her home painted and yard neatly kept, but the tasks became too much for her.

Sanchez, 75, a cancer survivor who also has other health problems, worked all her life and never thought of asking for help.

But when maintaining her home became too difficult, she turned to 6 Stones, a Euless-based nonprofit.

Her daughter Nora read about the cities of Hurst, Euless and Bedford working with 6 Stones to fix up homes for low-income residents as part of its community power revitalization program.

She helped her mother apply, and volunteers spent three days in the spring repairing doors, painting, cleaning up her yard and fixing broken plumbing.

Now, 6 Stones and Hurst, Euless and Bedford are encouraging homeowners to apply for the “fall blitz” scheduled for early October.

“We are very thankful,” Anna Maria Sanchez said. “I can go out in my yard again and take care of my plants. I am very grateful to the volunteers.”

Nora Sanchez, who often takes her mother to medical appointments, said the home repair program is a godsend for her family.

“We were out there working with the volunteers,” Nora Sanchez said. “We were excited to have the extra hands and get things done.”

‘This is hidden poverty’

Brian Cramer, director of community-powered resources for 6 Stones, said homeowners who meet income guidelines can apply for help with Hurst, Euless or Bedford. The residents are screened, and volunteers meet with them to determine their needs, he said.

Cramer said homeowners who apply often have circumstances such as caring for children with special needs or widowhood. Often they put off maintenance, he said.

“This is hidden poverty. You don’t often see it unless you drive down a street and see that a house needs work,” he said.

Homeowners in need “are right in our neighborhoods, and you don’t know it,” Cramer said.

Scott Sheppard, executive director of 6 Stones, said the nonprofit, which relies on a network of volunteers, corporations and the cities to repair homes, said the mission is all about “the village coming together to take care of the village.”

Sheppard said the poverty rate in the Hurst, Euless, Bedford area is around 10 percent, and 50 percent of the students in the H-E-B school district are on free and reduced-price lunches.

Other cities are looking to 6 Stones as a model, and next month the organization will expand into Cleburne because of the growth in Johnson County, he said.

‘It’s a good feeling’

Officials in Hurst, Euless and Bedford said that working with the faith-based nonprofit is a rewarding experience, and that the repair work results in a domino effect to improve neighborhoods.

The program began in Euless in 2008 and spread to Hurst and Bedford.

Ken Rawlinson, an investigator for the Euless Fire Department who also chairs the community revitalization committee in Euless, said about 300 homes have been repaired in the three cities.

“We recognized more than just prettier properties through the repairs, but dozens and dozens of families with restored hope,” Rawlinson said in an email.

Deputy Bedford City Manager David Miller said he has seen similar results.

In Bedford, code enforcement officers can refer residents to the 6 Stones program, he said.

Ashleigh Johnson, a spokeswoman for Hurst, said the community-powered revitalization brings a “domino effect to neighborhoods.”

The city also has an employee giving day in the spring so that it can help the 6 Stones volunteers with repairs. About 100 homes have been repaired in Hurst, she said.

Meanwhile, Nora Sanchez said she plans to volunteer during the fall blitz.

“It’s a good feeling to help others,” she said. “We need to pass it forward and do a little if we can to volunteer.”

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