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Volunteer group offers repair work for Penn Hills seniors

| Tuesday, May 12, 2015, 2:48 p.m.

A local volunteer group will help extend the scope of a Penn Hills municipal program designed to help senior citizens stay in their homes.

World Changers, a faith-based volunteer organization, will assist Penn Hills residents ages 60 and older through the municipality's Senior Aid Rehab Program this summer.

The program provides $1,000 grants to low-income homeowners for improvements such as patching and painting, porch repair, hand-railing installation, window installation and landscaping.

Additional volunteers will help the municipality stretch this year's funding, which comes from Community Development Block Grant money, by providing free labor, Penn Hills planning director Chris Blackwell said.

World Changers will work in Penn Hills from July 6 through 11, when more than 200 teen and adult volunteers come to Pittsburgh through the national organization, said Melanie Hart, a World Changers association and ministry coordinator.

“We are willing to help people of any age and any background,” said Hart, of Eighty Four. “It just worked out that the best way to serve Penn Hills was to work with senior citizens.”

About 25 percent of Penn Hills residents are over the age of 60, according to the Census Bureau.

“There are a lot of seniors, and they have to maintain their homes which can be expensive,” Penn Hills senior-services director Phyllis Paciulli said. “If there's any way the municipality can help (seniors) stay in their homes, they want to.”

The municipal program provides assistance to 10 to 12 senior citizens each year and budgets about $10,000 of grant money for the program.

Senior citizens who cannot maintain their homes inadvertently can contribute to blight, which has been a problem in the municipality.

World Changers is the third organization to come into Penn Hills this year to help assist with home repairs.

Rebuilding Together Pittsburgh also began doing home repairs for senior citizens in Penn Hills this year, and Habitat for Humanity is rehabbing two vacant houses in Penn Hills in 2015.

The municipality accepts Senior Aid Rehab applications through May 20.

Applications can be picked up at the Penn Hills Senior Citizen Center at 147 Jefferson Road or at the municipal building at 12245 Frankstown Road. For more information call 412-798-2126.

Kelsey Shea is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-320-7845 or kshea@tribweb.com.

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