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Sydney Thompson ’17 works with Impact Project to address housing repair needs

By Upstate Institute on July 1, 2015
This post was written by Sydney Thompson ’17

The main motto of The Impact Project is to “save a soul one house at a time.” The Impact Project is in its eleventh year of helping homeowners, having just completed their 73rd project and hitting the two thousand mile-marker for volunteers. For eleven years The Impact Project has grown into an organization that no one thought possible and it only continues to develop as it extends into more counties, partners with new organizations and gets the word out to the increased number of homeowners in upstate New York that have been struggling due to the lack of economy, increased flooding and harsh winters. The Impact Project relies heavily on grant funding and private donors to ensure that they can help as many homeowners as possible. The organization aims at creating sustainable environments for each homeowner, particularly the low-income and elderly, in order to establish a better quality of life for them at the present time and for years to come. Whether it is putting on an entire new roof, building a handicap ramp, or installing a furnace, when The Impact Project is done with a particular project there is an increased sense of hope and establishment within each homeowner.

The only things typical at the Impact Project are trailers with leaky roofs. Everyday presents a new challenge, a new obstacle to grasp and a new piece of the puzzle to solve. We sort through application requests daily, as well as completed applications that make their way to the review process where a Board of Directors carefully examines each case to establish who the organization is able to help. Planning each project takes a great deal of time and effort so that when the day comes to execute the project everything runs smoothly. During my time with The Impact Project I was able to see first hand the struggle that many Upstate New York homeowners go through on a daily basis. A large part of this struggle has to do with the amount of senior age people living in the area. The significant increase in percentage of senior age people in Upstate New York has to do with the Baby Boom, as well as much of the work force (ages 25-40) leaving the area. By the year 2025, the youngest of the Baby Boomers will be in their early 60s. These people will have little family in the area, as well as limited resources in order to solve their own problems, because of the lack of economy and work opportunities in the upstate NY.

Among similar organizations, the Impact Project is unique in that applicants receive a decision pretty quickly and from there accepted applicants do not have to worry about waiting many years for their projects to get done. Simply put, the Impact Project wants to help as many applicants obtain sustainability as they monetarily and physically can. However the demand never seems to diminish as the population of Upstate New York is highly skewed to the older side and those folks have little family in the area and no means to solve their own problems. This seems to be the biggest challenge, picking whom to help. Out of so many viable applications that come in every month, there can only be about one project and that is the most difficult part of the job.

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