The involves hundreds of Decatur residents each year. They are organized into work crews that clean up or renovate the residences of senior citizen over the three-day Martin Luther King Jr. weekend.
The Atlanta Regional Commission recently honored the City of Decatur for organizing that project with a CREATE Community Local Government Awards program.
Decatur's award was for community involvement and collaboration. The ARC said:
Senior citizens are sometimes forced from their aging homes because they can’t afford to maintain them. In 2003, the City of Decatur organized more than 100 volunteers for the first Martin Luther King, Jr. Service Project, repairing homes for low-income seniors.
In January 2012, 1,300 volunteers completed substantial repairs on 22 houses and major yard work on 25. The project improves living conditions for seniors by painting, installing ramps, bathroom and kitchen fixtures and weatherization, and by replacing rotten floors, old furnaces and water heaters.
The project brings together hundreds of residents each year, along with nonprofit organizations and local experts. The City of Decatur serves as the leader and organizer, handles permitting and ensures that repairs meet code.
Volunteers assess the properties and organize labor and food for three days. In 2012, 7,628 volunteer hours were contributed, $40,000 was raised in in-kind contributions and, most importantly, 47 homeowners received needed assistance.
At the awards cememony, Decatur City Manager Peggy Merriss was a member of a panel that discussed “Fostering a Culture of Innovation in Local Government.” It included Warren Hutmacher of the City of Dunwoody and Iris Jessie of the City of Riverdale also sat on the panel.
Here are some previous Patch stories about the MLK Service Project.