The last few weeks have left Washington resident Charles Staley at a loss for words as he gradually watched local and Pittsburgh-based groups renovate his longtime home.
Staley, 83, who lives on Locust Avenue, was chosen as this year’s recipient of the efforts of 84 Lumber, the Pittsburgh Steelers, Rebuilding Together Pittsburgh and Highland-Ridge Community Development Corp. The goal is to improve neighborhoods and help elderly, low-income veterans rebuild their homes and lives.
“It’s beyond words,” Staley said as he watched volunteers paint the interior and the exterior of his home Saturday. “I never thought anything like this would happen.”
Fred Fleet, president of the Highland-Ridge organization, said the work to Staley’s home is the second phase in the organization’s “Mending Fences” beautification program that focuses on houses and vacant lots along Locust as it targets distressed areas across the city. The first phase occurred in mid-June, when three Washington area youth groups completed a three-day cleanup of the area.
Fleet said they partnered with the other organizations to ensure Staley’s home got the attention it needed. Staley’s roof, siding, kitchen and bathroom floors and ceiling tiles were replaced. The interior and exterior of his home both got fresh coats of paint.
Fleet said Staley was the perfect candidate.
“Yes, he’s a vet, but he also gives back to the community a lot,” Fleet said.
Staley joined the U.S. Army 6th Armored Division in 1952 and left in 1954 for a job at Tygart Valley Glass for 35 years. He volunteers five days a week with Washington Senior Center.
Alan Sisco, the deputy director of Rebuilding Together Pittsburgh, said the groups were working on the home for two weeks. He expects Staley’s home to be completed in mid-July.
“This is a special project in Washington County because of the location of 84 Lumber,” Sisco said. “The house was in bad shape.”
Sisco said Saturday was the “peak” in the project. Over 20 volunteers from the different groups, including former Steelers alumni Larry Brown, Gerry Mullins and Pete Rostosky, spent the day painting.
Mullins said this was the fourth year he has participated in a renovation project.
“It’s very rewarding,” Mullins said. “You have to give back.”
Staley said he’s very appreciative of everyone’s hard work. He has lived in the home since 1952 and said it holds many memories of happier times.
“This is fantastic. It just (boggles) my mind,” Staley said. “I went to bed (Friday) night and laid there and cried. These people will always be remembered in my heart.”