"Make It Happen" by Preservation SOS

July 6, 2011 46 comments Open printer friendly version of this article Print Article

Preservation SOS calls on Springfielders for its next Make It Happen Project.

Preservation SOS (Save Our Springfield) arose from a small community meeting in summer 2010. With the mission of saving homes, beautifying blight, and helping people, SOS hit the ground running, making sure to maintain a reputation of getting things done; the whole “just do it” attitude.  A strictly volunteer group of interested Springfield residents, business owners, and friends, SOS talks less and does more.  Not everyone in Springfield is as passionate and patient about the houses as we are, and not everyone desires to help the less fortunate, but it is the crux of SOS.  

One of our major projects happens twice yearly and is called “Make it Happen.”  Miss Maggie was the first recipient of our Make it Happen preservation project.  Miss Maggie’s house was in dire need of attention and the City of Jacksonville's code enforcement held an active case file on her home, requiring her to repair the exterior deterioration of the home she has owned for over 30 years.  In her 80's, this was impossible for Miss Maggie. More than 65 neighbors and friends gathered on July 31st 2010 to “make it happen” at her humble bungalow on East 2nd Street.  Over the course of 10 hours, volunteers did minor repairs, painted, and landscaped her home and most importantly, cleared the case file with code enforcement; Miss Maggie’s house is no longer in jeopardy of being condemned and potentially demolished.  

Miss Maggie's house before.

Miss Maggie's house after.

A second project, for our friend Kenneth on East 9th Street, was a little less ambitious. Kenneth also had an active case file with code enforcement, requiring him to restore or demolish the violations in his home. Approximately 35 volunteers gathered Thanksgiving weekend 2010 to provide exterior repairs, trim painting, and landscape beautification.  And as with Miss Maggie, SOS was able to clear all code violations for Kenneth’s house and close the file with code enforcement.  

Kenneth's house before.

Kenneth's house after.

Oscar, who resides on the east 400 block of 3rd Street will be our July 23rd recipient of Preservation SOS's Make it Happen Project.  Oscar was a Springfield resident prior to our neighborhood being designated as historic.  He purchased his humble home on E. 3rd in the early 80s and has resided there for over three decades.  

Oscar’s home was nominated by his neighbors John and Monica for our project.  John and I went back and forth several times via email and in one he describes why Oscar is deserving of this neighborhood project:  “He is literally grateful for anything. He is such a sweet guy.  Even with all the bad that has happened to him, he is the most cheerful person you will meet.  He always looks on the bright side of life.  His house is in desperate need of work.  He does his best with limited funds and he takes such good care of Oscar Jr.  He is really a good Dad.”  

Oscar and Oscar Jr.

Well, we certainly agree.  Gloria, John, Monica, James (neighbor,) and I stopped by Oscar’s house after the heavy rain (and thankfully cooler weather,) and asked him if we could give him some neighborly love; paint and repair the exterior and landscape his yard. He didn’t hesitate and said he's wanted his home to be fixed for sometime so it looked nice like everyone else’s on the block.  

Oscar is a former truck driver, welder, boat captain, and construction worker.  He and his son are adored by the neighbors on their block and by those who know them.  

Back in the 80s when Oscar purchased, like all of the “old-timers” of the hood say, it was pretty scary.  He states that he was the only resident on his block, that one else lived there and all the houses were vacant.  “People vanished. Moved out.”  On the corner of Walnut and 3rd Streets, the commercial buildings had bars which produced a lot of negative foot traffic, drugs, and prostitution. Oscar talks about the “tremendous upgrades” in the last 10 years in Springfield.  And also that people are now more friendly. He states there “ain’t too much about it (Springfield,) I don’t like.”

Oscar and Oscar Jr.

I am repeatedly humbled by the goodness within people. I am glad to meet and to know people who continually do good for others without the expectation of something in return. Oscar and Miss Maggie are deserving of these community projects.  I already feel good inside and it is not even July 23rd yet! A thanks goes to the folks on the 400 block of E. 3rd - who are supportive of one another no matter what they have or don’t have.

For more information please email preservationsos@yahoo.com  All donations are tax deductible as SOS is under the umbrella of our friends at Sustainable Springfield.

Article by Nicole Lopez.