BUFFALO, NY (WKBW) - One year ago, 6300 volunteers surrounded the Powell family on Buffalo's west side to unveil the home a community built.
Eric Walker of PUSH and friend of Dolores Powell's says, "Nobody deserves this more than her." When Dolores Powell applied for the show, she tells us that few neighbors thought she would make the cut. "My neighbor told me that they laugh. They say you are crazy if you think anything like that would happen in a community like this." Powell knew that many neighbors didn't feel safe in their own homes.
When Extreme Makeover Home Edition came to town, 100 neighboring homes were also updated. Today, the work to improve this diverse neighborhood continues. "Everybody comes and cleans up. People walk with their heads up." Powell says. Billy Meldrum started cleaning up trash in the neighborhood a few years ago, but he expanded his route after the show. "It lifted everybody higher. The kids would always hear, oh, you live over there." Meldrum says, "Now, they see people buying here. Like me, people are cleaning up. They are putting on new roofs ."
"The spirit is still here. It can be sustained and changed," says WNY AmeriCorps CEO Mark Lazzara. "It's a wonderful thing." Lazzara says volunteerism spiked after Extreme Makeover Home Edition to 14 times the national average. With 23,000 vacant homes in Buffalo, Lazzara says, the possibilities for this west side community are endless. "I would really like to challenge the community to do it again."
Powell says she believes that the neighborhood will continue to improve. "Buffalo helped restore me. I was very broken when I come here. Very, very broken. I was going through really tough times. Because of Buffalo, I thank God that I am today part of the American dream."
Buffalo Police Spokesperson Mike DeGeorge tells us that violent crime in the renovated part of the west side is down by 20 percent over last year. Wednesday at 6am, Laura Gray will take us inside the home and share some never before aired secrets.