Project Blessings focuses on areas surrounding Tuscaloosa

Katherine Martin

Project Blessings is a non-profit organization whose mission is to help local low-income and underprivileged homeowners repair their homes to achieve a better quality of living, according their Facebook page.

By May 3, the organization had repaired about 10 homes in the city of Tuscaloosa, said Cathrine Taylor, a member of Project Blessing’s college board.

Allie Willborn, another member of the college board, said the projects the organization has worked on since it started had somewhat prepared them for dealing with the disaster.

“My aunt is the founder of Project Blessings, and when it happened, she gathered everyone she knew from Project Blessings and said there’s something we have to do and we immediately started contacting everyone we knew from Project Blessings and immediate action was taken,” Willborn said.

“Right after the tornado hit we got in our cars and went to Rosedale because some of the houses, the projects that we had done, were in Rosedale,” Taylor said.

Since the tornado hit on April 27, the group started forming a plan of action. Today, they are operatng out of Woodland Forrest Baptist Church and delivering supplies to those in need.

Taylor said people listening to the radio are calling in with what supplies they need. Project Blessings then gets the addresses and delivers the items.

On a single day, Taylor said they took more than 200 phone calls, made over 5,000 meals and packaged about 500 care boxes.

Willborn said the new focus of the organization is to reach out to the smaller towns surrounding Tuscaloosa.

“I traveled to Greensboro yesterday and those people are helpless,” Willborn said. “They’re sitting on their rubble with absolutely nothing.”

With all the focus on the city of Tuscaloosa, she said no one seems to be reaching out to smaller towns.

“That’s where we need to get the word out that in those small towns [near] Tuscaloosa, nobody realizes how bad it is,” she said. “One swipe through a small town and it’s gone.”

Maggie Sutlive, Project Blessings volunteer, said she came back to Tuscaloosa from her hometown of Savannah to help out because she felt the community needed help.

“They’re getting in to areas that are further out in the community that maybe people have overlooked,” Sutlive said. “It’s just a great organization.”

As for supplies, Taylor said they are in need of can openers, batteries, matches, candles, phone chargers, toiletries and feminine products.

Willborn said recovery would be a slow and steady process.

“Like Mayor Maddox has said, we’re not just going to need help now, we’re going to need help three weeks from now, football season,” she said. “This is going to be a very long growing and healing process. I think that a lot of people will realize that.”

Willborn said she does expect to lose volunteers as relief efforts continue, but she is confident that those who really care will be there for the long run.

Eight-year-old Taylor Maddox, a student at Verner Elementary, started working with Project Blessings last week with her mother.

Maddox said she helped package food and make sandwiches.

“[It’s important] because people don’t have houses anymore and they need help,” she said.

Volunteers can sign up to help Project Blessings at Woodland Forrest Baptist Church. Donations are being accepted at Bow Regards in Tuscaloosa.