Mission Serve returning to LaGrange

Published 9:11 am Friday, February 16, 2024

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Last summer, about 140 volunteers from across the southeast descended on LaGrange with one mission, to serve.

Students from middle school to college-aged, along with adult volunteers, came to LaGrange to give their time and effort to help rehabilitate substandard housing through Mission Serve.

Mission Serve is a national organization that partners with local city governments to help improve dilapidated housing by bringing together professional and student volunteers to provide free labor for homeowners.

LaGrange first hosted the organization about 18 years ago, then known as World Changers, for five week-long projects, when volunteers rehabbed more than 100 homes at no cost to low-income homeowners.

Last summer, Using $75,000 in Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funds from the city of LaGrange, the group rehabbed nine homes. In total, the group spent $81,401.09  to provide renovations including new roofs, exterior repairs, porch repair, and painting, among other much-needed repair work.

Along the way, the group was supported by the faith community, like Western Heights Baptist Church which provided housing for the volunteers and Fountain Church which provided meals. The group was also helped by Habitat for Humanity, who accepted and accounted for the grant funds from the city. This allowed Mission Serve to purchase materials using Habitat for Humanity’s Home Depot account and their discount and they provided all the accounting work at no cost for the project.

The homes in need of repair were referred to Mission Serve by Circles of Troup County, Habitat for Humanity and local churches.

The homes that were selected for repairs were based on need, but also on the ability of the volunteer teams to provide the work and to be able to do so within a week.

On Tuesday, Circles Director Sherri Brown, on behalf of Mission Serve, asked the LaGrange City Council for an additional $75,000 in CDBG funds so that the group could come back this year to rehabilitate another 10 to 12 homes.

Interim City Manager Patrick Bowie advised the council that the city has about $155,000 in CDBG funds that are restricted to being used for low-income housing.

While the council did not officially vote on the request, the consensus among council members was to provide funding for the project during the upcoming budget cycle.