BUFFALO, N.Y. — "Man I'm like a kid in a candy shop. It's so good to be home," said Steve Tybor, the founder of Eight Days of Hope.
Tybor is from Buffalo, but lived in Mississippi for 19 years. He moved back, bringing his faith-based organization, Eight Days of Hope, with him. Eight Days of Hope provides natural disaster relief, but has now issued an annual initiative in Buffalo. Each July, Eight Days of Hope will rally volunteers to fix homes of those in need in different districts around Buffalo. This year, 1500 hundred volunteers, from two years old to 91, from all around the country came together to fix homes in the University District.
"Our plan was to help 100 families, but so many volunteers, even locally have signed up. We're going to do more than just 100 families. We think we can hit maybe 150, 120 families," Tybor said.
Those who need help are selected through a lottery system. Otis Stephens is one of them. He is a Buffalo firefighter who needed a new roof.
"I mean if I don't do this, I call like 20 friends from work and see if I can get them to come over for some free labor. You know... money out my pocket," Stephens said.
He got his hands dirty too.
"As soon as they told me they'll be here at 8:30 a.m. I was like I'll be up at 8 a.m.," said Stephens.
"He's a real like-able guy. He's up on the roof helping us right now," said Adam Hames, a Eight Days of Hope project manager.
Otis is one of many who are grateful.
"You hear their stories, about how they felt hopeless. They had no where to turn, and a stranger shows up. Someone they might never see again, but they always remember," said Tybor.
"I'll remember this for the rest of my life. That these people Eight Days of Hope came out and did all this," said Stephens.
The volunteers truly change the lives of those that they help out. But for those working, the true change comes within.
"I see volunteers get changed forever. They're like, 'Steve i want to do this every single week,'" Tybor said.
Because they've done more than a good deed.
"We seem like a family. just after this two three hour experience," said Stephens.
"Sometimes they just want people to listen to them. They just want to hang out with someone, have a friend," said Tybor.
That's where 9-year-old Jerri Ann Hames comes in. She's from Tennesse, but has formed relationships all over the country.
"It's my job, most of the time, it's my job to make friends," said Hames.
If you're interested in volunteering for Eight Days of Hope either locally or across the country, visit their website.