published Thursday, July 17th, 2014

Changing the World: Hundreds of volunteers repairing homes, lives in city

Nick Prashear, who is working for the World Changers program, nails down planks while building a ramp for a lady in a wheelchair on 14th Street on Tuesday.
Nick Prashear, who is working for the World Changers program, nails down planks while building a ramp for a lady in a wheelchair on 14th Street on Tuesday.
Photo by Shawn Paik.

Seventy-eight-year-old Idella Darwin has one leg and had trouble getting down her front steps. World Changers came to the rescue.

"Prayer changes things," said the grandmother and mother of four, tears forming in her eyes as she talked. "I couldn't hardly make it."

Instead of struggling with a walker, she now can sit in her wheelchair and roll out the front door and down her wooden ramp.

Hundreds of World Changers volunteers are in Chattanooga for the next two weeks doing acts of kindness throughout the city. About 330 volunteers will complete 27 projects this week, and another 360 come next week to do about 30 more.

"I like giving back and helping the community," said 17-year-old Saylor Glanton, one of about a dozen volunteers building the wheelchair ramp at Darwin's home.

Other projects include putting siding on houses, painting and landscaping.

"Y'all are making my hood look good!" shouted a driver who watched the volunteers putting up the ramp.

World Changers, an initiative of LifeWay Christian Resources, has come to Chattanooga for more than a decade to repair homes for elderly and disabled residents. The city and the state Department of Economic and Community Development buy supplies for the workers.

Each World Changers team includes a crew chief such as Carl Burnham, who is an experienced construction worker, or a homebuilder who oversees repairs.

Burnham said the group wants to show people God's love while repairing their homes.

Volunteers like Glanton pay $250 each to be a part of a World Changers team. She is from Mansfield Baptist Church in Covington, Ga. Church groups came from as far away as Texas, Oklahoma and Illinois.

Darwin lay in bed while volunteers painted her kitchen and laid her ramp.

"They have been wonderful," she said.

It will be a year in September since her leg was amputated, but Darwin said she has no time for pity.

"I'm blessed," she said. "[The Lord] could have taken me and let me keep the leg."

Contact staff writer Yolanda Putman at yputman@timesfreepress.com or 757-6431.

about Yolanda Putman...

Yolanda Putman has been a reporter at the Times Free Press for 11 years. She covers housing and previously covered education and crime. Yolanda is a Chattanooga native who has a master’s degree in communication from the University of Tennessee and a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Alabama State University. She previously worked at the Lima (Ohio) News. She enjoys running, reading and writing and is the mother of one son, Tyreese. She has also ...

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