House at 14th & Madison-4.JPG

Exterior of house being refurbished at 1333 Madison Ave., by the West Side Hope Community Development Corporation, to become a re-entry home for male offenders.

jessica.kerman@heraldbulletin.com

About 20 people gathered on the recently renovated porch of 1333 Madison Ave. to tour a house that’s undergone two years of work.

Reconstruction of the house was done by about 25 at-risk youth, with the help and mentorship of several skilled craftsmen, said the Rev. Reginald Lee, president and CEO of West Side Hope Community Development Corporation.

The house will become a re-entry home for male offenders, Lee said.

“America is leading the industrialized world with more than 6 million persons currently in the criminal justice system,” he said to the group.

This is one of the efforts the West Side Hope CDC is using to assist men who have been to jail and are rejoining society. The CDC started in 2002, and the house was acquired in 2003. It was formerly the home of John and Esterleana Woodall, two prominent members of Anderson’s west side, Lee said.

Renovations began in the summer of 2005. The city of Anderson gave the project $25,000 as part of a Community Development block grant, Lee said. The New Hope United Methodist Church also used the project as part of its Rites of Passage Skill Trades Program, which pays at-risk youth to learn a trade such as plumbing, electricity and carpentry.

Carl Hendricks, 17, worked on the house in the summers of 2005 and 2006. During his time at the project, he worked on wall plastering.

“I like being part of it because it’s positive and it’s a good life experience,” he said.

Hendricks said he would probably work on it again this summer.

The CDC hopes to open the house to the first group of transitional men on Sept. 1, but funding may change that.

“We would like to challenge faith communities, civic organizations, corporations and individuals to help us raise the necessary capital to finish this facility and start the programming that leads to a safer and more productive place for all of us to live,” Lee said.

The men who live in the house will learn trades while transitioning into society. Plexico Weathersbee will be teaching them brick masonry.

“I’ve got the skill, and maybe I can pass it on,” he said. “Working at McDonald’s is not a good thing. If you have a skill, you can move on.”

Others will teach the men plumbing and electrical skills, Lee said. New Hope United Methodist Church is moving to a new building on 14th Street, and the old church will be used as the training facility, Lee said.

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