Dozens of volunteers roll up their sleeves to rehab home for Heads Up caretaker.
A quiet neighborhood started bustling shortly after sunup Saturday when dozens of volunteers descended on the home of Jim Tindall, the caretaker at Heads Up Therapy On Horseback who was severely burned in the October wildfires. As volunteers walked from nearby streets, trucks unloaded appliances, gallons of paint, bundles of lumber and of course, coffee.
The project, organized by Habitat for Humanity of the San Fernando/Santa Clarita Valleys in concert with The Gas Company, brought together nearly 70 volunteers by days’ end to rehabilitate the Newhall home, where the family relocated after their trailer up Bouquet Canyon was destroyed.
While it was a construction/restoration project on the surface, the reality is that Habitat for Humanity succeeded in coordinating several levels of organization and teamwork between not just volunteers but corporations and community groups, such as the Santa Clarita Disaster Coalition, which is helping families and individuals affected by the blaze, local craftspeople and suppliers and people who just want to help.
As if to illustrate, when a roll-off dumpster overflowed halfway through the cleanup, a phone call to Chris Fall, owner of Advantage Disposal, resulted in an empty bin delivered within minutes.
“When we are working in a disaster situation, we are able to do as much as we can for people in need because we triple the value through the use of volunteers and donated materials,” said Donna Deutschman, CEO for Habitat’s San Fernando/Santa Clarita Valley office. “With the number of people we expect today and they need to be scheduled very tightly, to know exactly what they’re doing and make the best use of their time and be safe.”
Deutschman said that several skilled volunteers were being used as supervisors of certain projects, such as Jeff Hyde, a lumber department manager from Lowes, who oversaw the building of the Tindall’s new back fence. Others with plumbing and electrical expertise wrangled a dishwasher and stovetop out of boxes in the kitchen, while every other room of the house was a bustle of taping, sanding, scraping or cleaning by people in white Habitat T-shirts.
By the end of the day, volunteers had installed a working double oven, the dishwasher and stovetop, two bathrooms had been completely refurbished, the yard had been cleared of leaves and the trees trimmed, the fence was finished and the inside of the house was completely painted and carpeting was ripped up in preparation for new flooring.
The majority of the volunteers came from the Gas Company, where employees involved with the utility’s “Brush With Kindness” program stepped up and offered their time and skills.
“We not only have a motto of “Glad to be of service,” we live it,” explained Mike Mizrahi, Public Affairs Manager of the Gas Company’s northern region. “Not only did our corporation make a $10,000 donation to refurbish the Tindall house, our affiliates wanted to be a part of the restoration. Teaming up with Habitat on this project was a natural.”
The Gas Company established a fund for fire victims shortly after wildfires whipped through Santa Clarita, San Diego and the Inland Empire. Saturday’s project was the first extension of that outreach effort.
Terry Tindall, Jim’s wife, walked room to room in awe of the work being done.
“This is overwhelming,” she said. “To have this home is securing my family financially and emotionally.”
Tindall grew up in the Newhall home, where wrought-iron and stained glass sculptures line one side of the yard, created by her and her parents. Jim Tindall could not be at the event, as he has returned to the Grossman Center for what Terry called “touch up work.”
“I’d take him as he is, but the doctor said he could fix a few things,” she said. He is expected to return home at the end of next week.
Assemblyman Cameron Smyth was there to recognize the work being done by all involved and handed out kudos to Deutschman, Mizrahi and Jack Shine, who serves as president of the local Habitat board of directors.
“This is one of the best parts of this job, to recognize people in the community. What I’m doing is so small in comparison to all the work they’re doing,” he said. “If we have another emergency in the community, I feel secure knowing that I have someone like the Tindalls right around the corner, willing to protect their neighbors.”