DETROIT, May 24, 2018 /PRNewswire/ -- Legal and permitting issues and manpower shortages have slowed the renovation of an old home at 1648 Junction Street in Southwest Detroit, but to Ron Pokorny, its transformation into a women's empowerment center is now a matter of "when," not "if."
Plans for the conversion of a former 900-square-foot residence across from Holy Redeemer Church into the "Latino Women Empowerment Center" have been in place since March 2017, with Michigan Building and Construction Trades Council-affiliated volunteers subsequently gutting the house and making progress on its transformation. Plans call for the building to be converted into a counseling, education and training center for Latina women who need assistance for their personal development.
A huge push in the renovation effort at the former house is scheduled for 8-9 a.m. Saturday, May 26, when an expected group of 20 volunteers from local building trades unions are expected to carry a truckload of drywall into the house as work enters a new phase. The presence of overhead electrical lines prevented a boom truck from making the process a lot easier.
"Getting the job done has been a struggle," said Pokorny, a Sheet Metal Workers Local 80 retiree who is coordinating the project. "The work is being done by volunteers from the local union trades, mostly on weekends, so the progress has been slow. But the positive part has been the people in the community, they see the progress that we're making, and they see the good things that union members are doing."
Hanging the drywall will be the next big phase in the former house, which has undergone a complete gutting, with hazardous materials removal, and much of the necessary heating, ventilation, electrical and plumbing rough-in work completed. It has been a remarkably complex project, Pokorny said, not only scheduling volunteer labor and acquiring donated materials, but because of the need to get appropriate city building permits and meeting federal Americans With Disability Act requirements.
Pokorny said transformation of the house is about 50 percent complete and he's hopeful the keys can be handed over to the Latino Women Empowerment Center in September.
Sister Consuelo Alcala, a Catholic nun who lives next door to the future center, spearheaded the fundraising effort to purchase the house at auction three years ago in order to create a place for the center. She said the group of women in Southwest Detroit founded the group and plan to work with local organizations and agencies for funding and other resources and hire a professional director for the empowerment center. Sister Consuelo said there is a great need in the local Hispanic community for a place for women to get education and counseling in response to domestic abuse and other needs.
"We want the center to be a place for women to be empowered by building up their self-esteem," said Sister Consuelo. "We are delighted with the progress they have made on the house. It's an old house and it wasn't in great shape to begin with, but the volunteers have come faithfully. We are so grateful for what they have been doing, and God bless them."
SOURCE Michigan Building and Construction Trades Council