Parkside: The Other Carpenter Brightens Community with Dark Past

Volunteer lifted buckets out of basement window.

Volunteer measured length of board.

Volunteer broke apart old stairs.

Hammers banging, electric saws buzzing and calls to watch out for a falling ladder are not typically welcome sounds early in the morning. However, to the residents who live on the 4500 block of West Stiles Street, the sounds are happily put up with.

The block is going through a much-needed renovation thanks to the help of a non-profit repair program called The Other Carpenter.

The goal of the program is to help low-income families, specifically in West Philadelphia, repair and rebuild their homes. Many people who live here said they have seen the affects of drugs and street violence and welcome The Other Carpenter coming in to help rebuild their community.

“It is nice to see people trying to do something nice with our neighborhood,” said Edward James, whose mother lives on the block. James’ mother has not yet had work done on her house but he said after seeing all of the beautiful work being done, he decided to see if she qualifies for the program.

Volunteers go to work early at 8:30 a.m. and complete tasks such as painting homes, fixing fences and even tearing down then rebuilding front porches.

Volunteer lifted buckets out of basement window.
Buckets were carried out of vacant basement.

The program has recently seen an influx in applications due to a summer program which allowed all houses meeting criteria for acceptance into the program to be worked on.

“We are working on the remaining nine houses out of 22 included in the program,” said Cassie O’Connell, director of The Other Carpenter.

One of the reasons O’Connell said the houses can be completed so quickly is they have the support of the community.

“Most of the homeowners actually help us with the repairs,” O’Connell said. “If physically able, most of them come out and help us or have friends or family members do so.”

Once the remaining nine homes are finished, the group will move on to the next set of applications and move on to a new block, where hopefully they will find more residents that will welcome them into their homes and work along side volunteers. w=577 h=324]

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