Community service heats up in Peabody

Dylan O’Sullivan sands the handicap ramp at 42 Washington St. in Peabody as part of the Community Development Coalition Build Day.

By Adam Swift

PEABODY — Giving back to the community was a sweaty, dirty job at a sober-living house on Friday, but no one seemed to mind.

Dozens of volunteers gathered at the Inn Transition to paint, sand, landscape and spruce up the facility that provides transitional housing to alcoholics and addicts. It was all part of the North Shore Community Development Coalition (CDC)’s Build Day at the Citizens for Adequate Housing Washington Street location.

“This is overwhelming and awesome,” said Corey Jackson, executive director for Citizens for Adequate Housing. “This is a program that helps youth and engages the community. It helps our mission and the CDC’s mission.”

With temperatures edging toward triple digits Build Day was almost literally a melting pot of local businesses, nonprofits and government organizations coming together to revitalize the neighborhood. A healthy mix of Rotarians, interns and staff from U.S. Rep. Seth Moulton’s office, city officials, and volunteers from various CDC programs divvied up the sandpaper, rakes, shovels and trash bags.

“It’s great to see all the members of the community coming together,” said Abby Gooding, an intern for the North Shore CDC. “I didn’t know that there were so many people who were this dedicated.”

The Salem-based CDC invests in North Shore neighborhoods by building affordable housing. This summer, they organized similar neighborhood beautification projects in Beverly and Salem, but it wasn’t quite as hot on those days.

“It was the opposite in Beverly and Salem,” Gooding said. “It was cold and I was drinking hot coffee instead of iced coffee.”

Jacki Shambaugh rips open a bag of mulch during Friday's Build Day. (Photo by Owen O'Rourke)

Jacki Shambaugh rips open a bag of mulch during Friday’s Build Day. (Photo by Owen O’Rourke)

The CDC puts a premium on helping young people and getting them involved in the community, according to Abbie Allenson, North Shore CDC’s marketing manager.

Friday’s work included volunteers from YouthBuild and Stand programs. YouthBuild provides construction and education opportunities for dropouts and Stand is a summer internship program providing community service learning for students.

As the volunteers broke for lunch, Moulton stopped by to offer some words of encouragement and highlight the importance of national service.

“I would not be in this job if it were not for my own national service and experience in the Marine Corps,” said the Democrat, who served four tours of duty in Iraq. “When I look at all the national priorities, national service should be something that is near the top of the list. People who do civilian national service have an awful lot in common with those who serve in the military. We are trying to do something that is bigger than ourselves.”

Several veterans were among those who volunteered to sand and scrape the Inn Transition steps and weed the garden.

Jesse Perkins, a Marine Corps veteran and North Shore Community College student from Haverhill, said this is the second year he’s been involved with Build Day.

“I’m representing the school and veterans, that’s why I’m here,” said Perkins. “It’s a lot of fun to give back as a veteran and a student.”

Hope Healy of Rockport said she came to Peabody because she felt strongly about supporting Inn Transition, which helps put families back on their feet.

“We’re out here on a hot day, but that’s okay,” she said.

In addition to the activity on Washington Street, volunteers built a float for the city’s Centennial Parade. In Lynn, the Build Day program focused on clearing a community path and creating a portable garden near the Central Square MBTA train station.

YouthBuild had a big hand in building the float, which will also double as a playhouse that will be raffled off by Peabody Main Streets after the October parade.

“It’s nice to be able to help out kids who are less fortunate,” said 19-year-old YouthBuild volunteer Jael Medina.

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