The Extreme Community Makeover organization has a lot of fantastic volunteer opportunities listed on our Volunteer Opportunity Calendar, so we want to share with you a bit more about who ECM is! Take a look at this great story created by ECM:
It was 9am and the sun was already beating down when I arrived at the meeting place for Extreme Community Makeover’s (ECM) Tuesday Work Day and was greeted by Angela Bomgaars, the organization’s Executive Director. A fold up table was set up with an array of t-shirts, pamphlets, and a donation box. This morning, Angela was hosting a team of realtors from Denver who were taking a day off work for team building and to give back to a community in Denver. The group congregated around Angela and she began describing the work that ECM does, prepping the team for a full day.
ECM Work Days take place in eight Denver neighborhoods: Barnum, Elyria, Globeville, La Alma/Lincoln Park, Swansea, Villa Park, West Colfax, and Westwood. ECM conducts door-to-door surveys on blocks in these neighborhoods, asking if folks need any assistance with exterior home repair and improvement projects. After identifying houses that request help, ECM volunteer groups “adopt” that block and spend a Work Day helping out.
All these projects and volunteer hours add up. ECM estimates that since they began serving Denver 18,075 volunteers have participated. The dollar value of time these volunteers have put in, they report, is equivalent to $2,277,574.00.
While these statistics are certainly impressive, ECM’s long-term goals and vision supersede them. As Angela explained to me, ECM uses Work Days as a lens for people to critically look at how they interact with their neighbors and what role they have in being a part of a thriving community. Volunteers are able to connect with neighborhoods and people they might not otherwise interact with, and then seek out ways that they can help out again outside of ECM. Similarly, the folks whose house or yard is being worked on are inspired to give back in other ways, to “pay it forward” to someone else in need.
At the core of ECM’s vision, engagement goes a step further. With the spark of an ECM Work Day, blocks & neighborhoods collectively discover the resources that they have – in tools, in skills, but, most importantly, in people – and realize the ways that they can help each other. Neighbors connect and build community, creating a model for how we can help each other moving forward.
“Grass and weeds will grow back, paint will chip, so ECM is really about connecting people in a way where neighbors can help each other over the long term,” Angela explains.
Stats like the ones above show that ECM is on the right track with their mission, but a story that Angela relayed to me illustrates how ECM envisions change happening on a long-term scale. One Work Day, Angela and that day’s volunteer team were helping out at the home of an elderly woman who was confined to a wheelchair — picking weeds, painting exterior walls, mowing the lawn.
A few neighbors on the block saw the large volunteer team working and came by to ask what was happening. After hearing about why ECM was there and the simple yet important work being done, they quickly realized that they could do the same thing at this woman’s home, but on a regular basis. They now help mow the neighbor’s lawn and do other small repairs when needed, a small chunk of time out of their weekly routine, but a big difference for this woman who wouldn’t be able to do these tasks otherwise. Now, instead of having a volunteer team come out to do these tasks, the members of this block work together – each and every week – to improve their own neighborhood.
Despite the big impact ECM has already had, they still face significant challenges, the biggest of which is simply bringing in enough resources to work on the scale needed to start making people rethink the roles they play in their neighborhoods. This is a model that Angela and the ECM team think can scale throughout Denver and to other communities, but they are focused on dedicating limited resources to keeping up the high quality work they’re currently doing.
A big drain on resources and the quality of work they do is simply not having a truck – which is why they’ve asked for support through Neighborhood Catalyst to obtain one. Right now, without a truck, ECM must spend vital time and money transporting tools back and forth from project site to project site. When things don’t fit in the cars they have now, they have to make multiple trips. Without a truck, they can’t properly dispose of debris from Work Days – a key organizational goal, and an important aspect of beautification for the residents of the blocks they work on.
Currently, not having a truck is a drain on resources and a hurdle for completing the work they set out to do. With a truck, ECM will be able to efficiently get tools and equipment to the Work Days that need them, save on resources that can then be redistributed to key long-term projects, and, lastly, will allow them to be even more effective at improving neighborhoods.
Ultimately, having a truck allows Extreme Community Makeover to continue building relationships and bringing communities together “one block at a time.”
Be a part of ECM’s work by contributing to their campaign here. They are so close to their goal, but must reach 100% by June 14th to keep what they have already raised. To learn more about Extreme Community Makeover, and to discover other ways you can support and get involved, visit their website and follow them on their Facebook page.
(reblog from ECM blog page)
If your interested in learning more about ECM they have a happy hour event happening on Wednesday, June, 25 at 4:30pm – 6:30pm for more information click here to check out their Facebook page!