What a difference a day makes.
More than 400 volunteers in teal shirts descended on Prairie Township on May 5 to improve and upgrade more than a dozen homes.
The project in the Little Farms neighborhood was the culmination of months of preparation for the 2018 Rebuilding a Healthy Neighborhood, an initiative by the Columbus-based nonprofit, Rebuilding Together Central Ohio, that targets a different community each year.
"A total of 28 homes -- nice, solid houses," said Julie Smith, director or Rebuilding Together. "Most of them were built from the 1920s to the '50s. They are sound, so that means that the work that we're doing will help get them ready for the next 20 years."
Fifteen houses were worked on during the event May 5. Another six were completed prior to May 5, and the others are mostly outdoor projects that require warmer weather. Those will be done this summer, Smith said.
Nearly every house will have more than one improvement, but each is unique, she said. Some received new roofs; many had exterior work done, including painting, weather-stripping, landscaping, gravel work and concrete leveling.
Interior projects are designed to increase mobility and safety for residents and improve energy efficiency, Smith said. Projects included electrical and lighting upgrades, carpentry and replacing old bathtubs and fixtures.
"Some of the work is very practical," she said - replacing complicated or dying landscaping with plant life that will be easier to maintain, for instance.
"We have several porches that we'll be replacing and repairing," she said.
It added up to nearly $500,000 worth of donated goods and services, Smith said. That amount includes $50,000 Prairie Township trustees allocated to the effort.
Kimberly Butts worked for OhioHealth for 30 years before retiring following hip-replacement surgery. She said she was "blessed" to welcome volunteers into her home on Maple Drive.
Replacing a woefully outdated "penny fuse" style electrical box was the "critical" project, but volunteers also tackled interior painting, plugging leaks, porch improvements and swapping out an "old wooden front door" for a safer and more energy-efficient one, she said.
Butts, 58, now works for Kroger and said she always has been proud of the house she bought in 2012 and shares with her two boxers, but Rebuilding Together has made her "feel like I won the lottery."
"I kind of struggle on a single income," she said. "You do what you can. But this has made me feel like all the hard work I've ever done has paid off.
"It's like a divine message."
Tanya Culbertson said the work was invaluable to her family. Her father, Stan Griggs, is a WWII veteran and former school teacher. He lives in a Maple Drive house that has been in her family for more than 100 years.
Landscaping, concrete work and plumbing repairs will allow Griggs, 92, to remain in the home he and his late wife, Cleo, shared until her death in 2016. The house previously was owned by Cleo's parents, Culbertson said.
Constructing a new pathway from the front porch to the driveway and updating the bathroom to include new fixtures and accessibility features such as a raised toilet and handrails will allow her father to remain independent, she said.
Culbertson, 57, lives next door with her husband, Wes. She said they were "speechless" when they found out about the Rebuilding Together project. Volunteers also painted the Culbertson porch and tackled landscaping projects outside.
"We thought it was too good to be real," Culbertson said. "The front steps are becoming troublesome for him. It's becoming more difficult for him to shower. I'm trying to manage taking care of two yards."
Culbertson said her mother was born in the house in 1927. She hopes to keep it in the family for many years to come.
"It's been hard on (my dad) not being able to do the things that he used to do. But he still writes poetry at almost 93," she said.
Rebuilding Together volunteers also distributed more than 200 free window air conditioning units and about 100 free home safety kits as part of the program.
For more information about Rebuilding Together programs, visit www.rtcentralohio.org.