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Preservation SOS: Organization Rehabs Home For Springfield Man

9:47 PM, Jul 23, 2011   |    comments
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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Oscar Collins, Sr. could only watch in amazement this morning.

"Yes sir.  This is beautiful," he said.

He watched from the stree as his home of more than 30 years was being transformed.

"I think it's just awesome.  It's just awesome," said Collins.

Collins is now in his 70s.  He says over the past few years, he hasn't been able to take care of his Springfield home like he wanted to.

"Had open heart surgery and you know age catches up with you with open heart surgery," he said.

He also takes care of his 33-year-old son, Oscar Jr., who's handicapped.  After a nomination, Preservation SOS stepped in.

"We decided to make it happen, if you will, by going out there and helping people who need help," said SOS President Nicole Lopez.

SOS stands for "Save Our Springfield".  Lopez says they started the grassroots organization a year ago to provide random acts of beauty by rehabilitating homes in danger of being condemned or demolished by the city.

"This particular project today, he does not have an active case file, but we felt very strongly that if he didn't receive the support of the neighborhood that he could at some point," said Lopez.

Volunteers of all ages from all over came together to do everything from building Collins and his son a new porch, to painting and landscaping.

"Oh it feels wonderful to help.  This is what living in Springfield is all about, community.  We all come together to help each other," said volunteer Lane Manis.

"I didn't think it was so many people in the neighborhood that had that much love for you," said Collins.

Oscar Junior gave the work a thumbs up.

"That was beautiful.  That's nice," he said with a smile.

That's what it's all about for volunteers-- giving families a fresh outlook.

"We're very confident, as I look around at our wonderful neighbors, that Oscar is going to have the best house when today is done," said Lopez.

Collins was excited to choose the new paint color for his home. Out of 15 colors, he chose blue.

"Well, it goes with my eyes," said a laughing Collins.

They're the same eyes watching strangers giving him the gift of a new home.

"I say thank you and may God have showers on them all," said Collins.

This is the third project for Preservation SOS, which works under the umbrella of Sustainable Springfield.  Next month, they plan to make improvements to a Springfield business, Caribbean Stone on West 8th Street.

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