Here we share a guest post from Brenda Warrick, the manager of Regina Apartment Complex. The complex is a group of 24 homes operated by our community partner, the Southern Appalachian Labor School (SALS) in West Virginia. Here Brenda writes on behalf of the residents of Regina, expressing their gratitude for Global Volunteers’ support and hard work over the past three years. She writes about Global Volunteers’ crucial role in the development of the future of the residents of Regina. Brenda shares this story, mentioning that she could probably write an entire book on the value of volunteers in her community.
By Brenda Warrick
Three years ago I brought Global Volunteers to the Regina apartments to show them what poverty looked like. I remember it as if it was yesterday. I explained how easily we could all find ourselves here in this situation. We are all just one paycheck away from ending up here at Regina. Looking around, I saw unhappy kids with tears running down their cheeks…this was not my intention at all. As we drove around the area, I asked, “Do you notice anything different along the roads?” There were many answers, but none were correct. Along every road, there were American flags hanging from the telephone poles. I mentioned that even though the people here were poor, they were proud. They were proud of America. We should always remember to be proud of America even if it seems futile sometimes. Life does go on and you have to make the best of it. Remember, you are an American!
Well, it turns out that I ended up in Regina myself managing the complex. It seemed like a hopeless situation at first, to say the least. I walked into what was called “The Ghetto and Gunsmoke.” One of our state senators told me not to walk but run out of here because it was the worst complex in the state of West Virginia. However, with the help of Global Volunteers, we have changed the appearance of the area and given dignity to its people who previously were only identified as poor. Even if you’re poor with a low income, you can still make things happen and that’s exactly what we did. We made things better. We look forward to teams of volunteers. Without them, the community garden wouldn’t have existed this year and that’s where a lot of our residents spend time during the summer months. They grow and preserve the fruits and vegetables for the winter months when things get tough. Now folks feel their stomachs rumbling less, and they can thank Global Volunteers for that!
“We look forward to teams of volunteers. Without them, the community garden wouldn’t have existed this year and that’s where a lot of our residents spend time during the summer months.”– Brenda Warrick
Global Volunteers has helped us pass many inspections. It took a lot of hard work and laughter. I suppose we can say that we’re probably the only apartment complex that has actual goats living on the property. Volunteers helped us build the goat houses (to hide them, said a laughing tenant with a twinkle in her eye). The goats themselves have brought a lot of happiness to the community and given folks a sense of responsibility to nurture them and keep them safe. It’s also brought the residents closer together. Community members no longer look down on the people that live in the Regina Apartments. We have cookouts for the community and tenants on a monthly basis (weather permitting).
Everyone is looking forward to this fall. That’s when we have our harvest feast. We’ll all get together to build a bonfire, play games, and have a chili cook-off with a live band. It’s something that wouldn’t have been possible years ago. Regina was known for its drugs, homeless people, thieves, assaults, and shootings, on a nightly basis. It was a bad place to live. Things have changed over the past three years. Police officers have been here twice compared to 99 calls in 30 days previously. We’ve become one big family and are finally accepted in an area that detested the Regina Apartments in the past. Without the help of Global Volunteers, we would never have seen this day!
“Without the help of Global Volunteers, we would never have seen this day!”– Brenda Warrick
There’s still so much more that we need help with. From all of us to all of you, keep on visiting. Our door is always open and food is always on the table. Thank you all so much for giving us a home and a place that’s safe now. Even though a lot of times we don’t express or show the love we have for Global Volunteers, please know that you’ve all helped so many people, and there are many more people who still need your help! You’re always welcome here at Regina.
With our sincere thanks,
Brenda and the tenants of Regina Apartments in Gauley Bridge, West Virginia