Cedar Rapids nonprofit Matthew 25 now taking applications for home repair program

Volunteers during Transform Week in 2019. — courtesy of Matthew 25

Matthew 25 is now accepting applications for its fifth annual Transform Week, during which the Cedar Rapids nonprofit will assist low-income families with home repair and maintenance.

To qualify, residents must live in the Time Check or Taylor neighborhoods and own their home. Applicants must also earn less than $71,450, which is 80 percent of the median income for a family of four in Cedar Rapids. These projects are completed at no cost to the homeowners because of grants, sponsorships and volunteer work.

“My encouragement is always to homeowners to be willing to raise their hands and ask for help,” Matthew 25’s Executive Director Clint Twedt-Ball said in a news release. “We all know that sometimes things arise in life that make it hard to maintain a home.”

Matthew 25 was started in 2006 with a mission to “strengthen and elevate neighborhoods on the west side of Cedar Rapids,” according to its website. The nonprofit’s name comes from a Bible passage that stresses the importance of helping those in need.

The organization focuses on food, housing and education in its efforts to transform neighborhoods. In 2012, Matthew 25 opened Cultivate Hope Urban Farm, the first urban farm in Iowa, near downtown Cedar Rapids. Last year it opened both its own farmers market to sell fruit and vegetables from the farm, and the Groundswell Cafe. The cafe, which operates on a pay-it-forward basis, encourages patrons to round up their bills to cover the cost of meals for those who can’t afford them.

Following the 2008 flood, the nonprofit worked to rebuild flood-impacted homes and neighborhoods through the Block by Block program, which rehabilitated close to 300 homes.

Because there’s “still a lot of need” when it comes to flood repair, Transform Week was started in 2016, Matthew 25’s Development and Communications Director Jana Bodensteiner told Little Village. However, the projects covered by Transform Week aren’t limited to flood-related damage.

“It’s different projects that people need to keep their homes livable,” Bodensteiner said.

Volunteers during Transform Week in 2019. — courtesy of Matthew 25

Possible projects include repairing detached garages, replacing windows and doors, installing floors, building fences and improving landscaping.

“We have had amazing volunteers, and for Transform’s fifth year we’re looking for projects that will change lives,” Aaron Saylor, Matthew 25’s neighborhood building manager, said. “Whether that is fixing a fence so the dog can go out off-leash, replacing windows to lower the heat bill, helping people get off the nuisance abatement list or fixing a floor before it caves in, let us know how we can help.”

Transform Week has grown each year since it began. There were six projects and 50 volunteers for the first event in 2016. The following year there were 12 projects and 160 volunteers. In 2018, 300 volunteers helped with 18 projects.

This year, there were 22 projects completed by 325 volunteers. A total of 40 applications were received in 2019.

For the 2020 Transform Week, which will take place from June 22 to 26, Bodensteiner said the goal is 24 projects with 350 to 400 volunteers.

Individuals interested in submitting a project application have until 4 p.m. on Feb. 1, 2020. The application can be submitted in person at the Matthew 25 office, 201 Third Avenue SW, or emailed to Volunteer registration for Transform Week will open in March 2020.

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