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Volunteers toil to restore veteran’s N. Side house

Published: Sun, March 4, 2012 @ 12:09 a.m.

Volunteers toil to restore veteran’s N. Side house

By Ashley Luthern



Dozens of people braved the cold, wind and snow flurries Saturday to help a newcomer to the city’s North Side.

The Crandall Park South Neighborhood Association organized “Youngstown Neighbors For Neighbors,” a work day at the home of Rik Blake, 49, who moved to 404 Lora Ave. Feb. 23 from Hermosa, Calif.

Blake had purchased the home sight-unseen and found it stripped, with the electric, gas and water turned off when he arrived.

“It’s awesome to see all this,” said Connie Lauderdale, a contractor who lives in a house behind Blake’s and helped organize the work day.

Volunteers stayed for hours, and many people stopped by to drop off food, water, coffee and other donations.

“We are focusing on getting all the broken windows replaced and getting the doors hung up. We’re cleaning up the property,” said Don Sluder, a volunteer from New Castle, Pa.

The priority was to make sure Blake’s home is secure and has heat, Sluder said.

“People see what you’re doing, and it’s helping set an example,” he said of the cleanup.

Peggy Gurney, president of Cochran Park Neighbors on the city’s South Side, said it was inspiring to see so many people rally together.

“It really is neighbors helping neighbors and from all sides of the city. Many saw the [Vindicator] article and wanted to help,” she said.

In addition to individuals’ efforts, several local businesses donated, including C&V Wholesale, Youngstown Plumbing and Hardware, YESCO, Allied Waste, Banner Supply, Vinylume Windows, Rental Corral on Gypsy Lane, Pizza Joe’s on Gypsy Lane, O’Donold’s Irish Pub & Grill and Kravitz Deli. T-shirts were provided by Unique Biker Apparel.

The man at the center of Saturday’s effort moved among different areas of the house and was often waved over to the driveway by people who wanted to meet him.

“The entire community has come together to make my house a home,” Blake said, adding it all started with his neighbors Jeffrey King, who contacted The Vindicator, and Steve Henderson, who donated firewood to him last weekend. Henderson was at Blake’s house Saturday, cutting up debris with his chainsaw.

Blake, who recently got a job in the city, said plumbing and electrical work will begin this week and that he’s keeping a growing list of names and donations so he can thank them again.

“I’m not going to accept more than I need and I have a plan for the house now: I’m going to live on the third floor and I want to use the four rooms on the second floor for homeless veterans,” said Blake, himself an Army veteran.

As he spoke, a woman handed Blake a card that someone had dropped off. He pulled the card out of the envelope, opened it and smiled. The inside of the card read: “God Bless Your New Home.”


1connielaudrdle(8 comments)posted 4 years, 3 months ago

Thanks Ashley!! I also have to mention Uptown Pizza-Belmont Ave, Shirts were already being printed by the time I had talk to them! I posted this comment few mins ago on previous article but I'll repeat it:
I want to Thank All the great people of Youngstown.... I've said this many times the last 4 days of complete madness, but I have been overwhelmed, amazed, and humbled to have been able to be a part of this. From the local businesses who stepped up to this challenge with responses of just tell me what you need, to local contractors who said you get me what I need & I'll get it done, to the citizens who asked what do you want me to do, and finally the people from Toledo to Texas who emailed. I've been quite busy the last few days without the chance to say Thank You!! PS Drywall Mike I'll get it prepped and we can talk before you come---if you need a few extra hands let me know and I'll arrange it!!! It was a wonderful day with much accomplished!!!Thanks again everyone!!!

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2FreaseCycle(1 comment)posted 4 years, 3 months ago

Rik...It was great to meet you. Nancy and I look forward to helping you in any way we can. I left my card so please call me as I forgot to get your number. If not we will stop up again next week. Billy

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3whitesabbath(738 comments)posted 4 years, 3 months ago

God Bless All VETS, and everyone involved in this project. Such a great Cause. A Community effort to show how Youngstown takes care of Youngstown.

Somebody must like the Packers, alot of green and gold lol.

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4peggygurney(408 comments)posted 4 years, 3 months ago

Yesterday was one of the most awesome days I have ever experienced! It was a pleasure to work with neighbors from all over the city - and county! Loved meeting new people, and seeing firsthand, just what Youngstown is truly made of. Love it!

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5PhilKidd(189 comments)posted 4 years, 3 months ago

Special thanks to Connie, Peggy, Eric Holm (Crandall Park Neighborhood Association) and to all of the other volunteers and those who donated. Special thanks also goes to Ashley Lutheran and the Vindicator for bringing the situation to the community's attention and for the excellent coverage. This is what Youngstown is capable of and why many people are proud to live in this community despite its many challenges.

Here is a video I put together regarding the event. I think the ending (interview with Connie & Rik) is really nice. Again, great job to all those involved. Welcome to Youngtown, Rik!


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6lefty83(313 comments)posted 4 years, 3 months ago

Way to go youngstown.Nice to hear some positive news.

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7gingerspice(141 comments)posted 4 years, 3 months ago

WOW!! This is what it is all about!! Ok local lawyers! Here is a chance to help.
Someone needs to make sure the deed to this man's property is in order and legal so the rotten real estate company that sold him the house and told him it was in move in condition then tried to sell it on ebay after they got Rik's money will not pull some crazy bull and try to take the house back after it is in "move in condition". Please, step forward and offer your services "pro bono" and be BLESSED!!

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8southsidedave(5189 comments)posted 4 years, 3 months ago

Still some good & decent people in the world.

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9peggygurney(408 comments)posted 4 years, 3 months ago

Thanks for that shout-out gingerspice!

southsidedave, there certainly are. Let's hope we get as good a turn-out when we do this kind of work on the south side, eh?!

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10whitesabbath(738 comments)posted 4 years, 3 months ago

Looks like they need home-less VETS tommorow morning at 9:00 for special duty. at 404 Lora ave.

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11connielaudrdle(8 comments)posted 4 years, 3 months ago

We were able to get contract recorded-as is for now so he could get a water acct in his name to get water turned on Wed (they need to replace at road). I was going to contact seller to get rest of paperwork in order but if someone in the legal community would like to advise I'd be appreciative!

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12becky47(34 comments)posted 4 years, 3 months ago

As one of the many volunteers on Saturday I have to say it was one of the best days ever. Regardless of the wind and cold so many people turned out to help Rik make this house a home for him and his 2 great dogs. It was truly heartwarming to see everyone work so hard and to see the change that was made in the 5 hours that I was there. I look forward coming to the next day of work and can't wait to see this fantastic home when it is complete. Great Job everyone there are some really good people in Y-Town no matter what some people think.

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13endthismess(463 comments)posted 4 years, 3 months ago

Hey gingerspice...listen.... you're all tangled up here in way too much gingebread....get your facts straight before you go off on some endless sqaure dance of a tangent....there was no" rotten real estate company" ever involved with this sale. Yes that's the big old plain truth gingie.. Learn how to read the auditor's site. This house was withdrawn from the active sales market on 5/5/09 by a broker from Girard, OH as "unsold". This place remained unsold until Atlantic Coast Houses LLC sold this place to Dream Home Investments, LLC of Valley Glen, CA on 10-14-09. And...the Valley Glen, CA owner is who sold this place to Rik. NO real estate company was ever involved in this transaction.. These CA investors dump their properties on anyone who will buy their crap, any which way they can find a buyer. And craigslist is one of many outlets they advertise for buyers. So, leave the real estate companies out of this mess. They had nothing to do with this. They never said the place was in good condition and whatever else you got all turned around about. Lay off that gingerbread this week.

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14connielaudrdle(8 comments)posted 4 years, 3 months ago

The ad was somewhat misleading by the holding company. There is NOT much work to be done COSMETICALLY. What they failed to mention was the pipes, wiring, and hot water tank were stolen- for scrap. 99% of the vacant houses , not only in Youngstown, but every city has this problem. EVERY house but 2 I have done have been like this. This is where neighbors come in handy but to have neighbors you have to not have vacant houses.

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15NorthsideH(5 comments)posted 4 years, 3 months ago

Being one of the neighbors who helped Ric this weekend along with my wife and daughters, was a great feeling of helping someone. The point here should not be one of who is at fault, who was in the wrong, or who is not deserving of help. There are a lot of people out there who make mistakes, some people like to point out those mistakes and some people do what they can to help fix those mistakes
. I am happy that we were some of the latter. More people need to make the best of a bad situation than just complain about it for things to change. Life in Youngstown may not be perfect, for some of us it's not too bad, for some of us it's not too good but sometimes, like Saturday, it can be great. I just hope I can be a part of more of those days. Thanks to everyone who tried to make Ric's situation great!

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16whitesabbath(738 comments)posted 3 years, 7 months ago

He turned out to be a drug addict / con bummer

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