Scottsdale’s Operation Fix It keeps growing

A Scottsdale program that fixes up distressed properties can expand even further, thanks to $32,000 in recent donations, city officials said.

Operation Fix It, formerly known as Code Cares, spruces up yards and home exteriors for residents who are physically or financially unable to maintain them. Volunteers paint houses, clean up yards and put in new landscaping, among other projects.

In 2013, the program more than doubled the number of residents it helped compared with 2012.

Now, Operation Fix It is expected to grow even more. The goal is to raise $75,000 for the program in 2014 — more than double the amount raised last year. The funds cover the cost of materials, such as paint, in addition to tools and contract work.

“We’re just off to an amazing start,” said Michelle Bruce-Holmes, Operation Fix It program manager with the city.

The program recently accepted donations of $10,000 from Henkel and $22,000 from the Scottsdale Business Development Forum.

Henkel Consumer Goods Inc. has headquarters in Scottsdale.

Ed Capasso, senior vice president of finance for Henkel Consumer Goods, said the company wants “to continue to make a positive difference in our community by being involved in causes that directly impact where we live and work, and the Operation Fix It program helps us to support that effort.”

The Scottsdale Business Development Forum, a private organization, works to recruit businesses to the region and strengthen the city’s economic base.

On Feb. 12, the Business Development Forum hosted Scottsdale Mayor Jim Lane’s 2014 State of the City address at the Scottsdale Marriott at McDowell Mountains.

The $22,000 came from event proceeds.

“This was the second year we used the State of the City address as a vessel to raise money for Operation Fix It,” Lane said. “Every penny of the net proceeds of the State of the City luncheon goes directly to support this program.”

With the new donations, Lane said, “I expect to see Operation Fix It help more Scottsdale homeowners than I would have ever imagined possible.”

Without the donations, much of the work wouldn’t be possible, Bruce-Holmes said.

“Every year it’s growing, because we have the resources to do more,” she said.

In 2012, city officials ramped up the program, making it a bigger community effort involving more local businesses and volunteers.

Bruce-Holmes, a former code inspector for Scottsdale, said the demand for assistance has grown.

In 2012, 640 volunteers worked on 52 projects, she said. A year later, the program had 868 volunteers who finished 109 projects, she said.

The majority of recipients — about 90 to 95 percent — are elderly, and many are on fixed incomes, Bruce-Holmes said.

About half the time, recipients are referred to Scottsdale by city code-enforcement officers, who might normally issue citations for violations, she said.

Instead, the program helps eligible residents whose homes aren’t up to code. David Lauer, a Scottsdale code-enforcement officer, said he often meets people on fixed incomes, single mothers, the elderly and “people who are disabled, or people who are just temporarily disabled and going through a bad time.”

“That’s when this program is really, really helpful,” Lauer said.

The program works closely with Home Depot, landscapers and other businesses, which are paid for their services and materials, usually at a discounted rate, Bruce-Holmes said.

The program now has a tool trailer equipped with materials needed for projects.

“Residents can fill out a waiver and we can loan them the tool trailer for free,” she said.

The city also contracts with a painting company that evaluates properties and tests for lead, she said.

Volunteers are always needed.

Bruce-Holmes said the number of volunteers drops off during the summer, and there is no age limit to join.

“We have volunteers as young as 4-year-olds,” Bruce-Holmes said. “We have a group of volunteers in their 70s.”

Volunteers have stepped up from faith-based organizations, businesses, non-profit groups and even the Arizona State University track team, Bruce-Holmes said.

Rob Gaschler, pastor of Pinnacle Church in south Scottsdale, said a group of 10 volunteers from the church cleaned up a yard in early April that was overrun with weeds.

“It was a little overwhelming at first,” Gaschler said. “We had 10 people but not enough tools.”

After a lot of hard work, they finished 2½ hours later, he said.

Gaschler said the goal is to work on one house every season.

“As long as the program is in place, we’ll keep participating,” he said.

More information

www.scottsdaleaz.gov/departments/planning/NeighborhoodResources/fixit

Income criteria to qualify for program

Source: Scottsdale

Article source: http://www.azcentral.com/story/news/local/scottsdale/2014/04/23/scottsdale-operation-fix-keeps-growing/8069727/