Volunteers needed in 'framing blitz'
Habitat rebuilding home destroyed by fire
Volunteer framers will begin erecting the skeleton of a new house this week for the well-known and well-liked Yuma elder whose home was destroyed by fire in December. And they're looking for more hands to rebuild on the same lot where Tony Gianopoulos had lived for decades.
A team from Yuma's Habitat for Humanity will hold a three-day “framing blitz” starting March 6. Habitat volunteer Dick Tennent said several experienced workers have agreed to come out, and with their knowledge they can guide novice framers. The plan is to have the house framed and roof-ready by the end of that week. Tennent said he already has 10 to 12 people coming to help, but another eight to 12 would be good and more would be all the better to ensure solid craftsmanship.
The back wall of the house, for example, will be 51 feet long, and “that takes a lot of work to be perfect,” he said.
Tennent said the city building inspector signed off on the footers and foundation on Feb. 15 so concrete could be poured, and on Thursday, the concrete contractor finished that portion of the project. Tennent hopes to have the lumber in on Monday so that a small crew can do some prep work, which will include cutting and numbering all the wall segments and marking the walls' locations on the slab.
Yuma opened its heart and pockets to Gianopoulos, 79, after the devastating blaze, donating money, furnishings, clothing, services and more to help him get back on his feet. He lost almost everything he owned in the wee hours of Dec. 9, when faulty wiring caught fire near his gas furnace as he slept in his living room.
The furnace exploded, and flames quickly consumed the small house at 1055 La Casita Drive. He was able to escape unharmed, but only with his nightclothes, a few photos and one of his two dogs (the dogs bolted, and he was able to find one a few days later; the other has not turned up). He had no homeowner's insurance.
He lived independently though, supporting himself with Social Security and his wage from his part-time greeter job at Yuma's Sam's Club. Gianopoulos has worked at the warehouse store for many years and was known for doodling smiley faces on shoppers' receipts.
Frank Carrillo, Yuma Habitat's executive director, frequently shopped at Sam's Club when he owned a restaurant and ran the lunch program at St. Francis of Assisi Catholic school.
“If you've ever been to Sam's Club you know Tony, and if you know Tony you'd understand the need to help build his home,” Carrillo said.
To join the framing blitz, call Dick Tennent at 305-0031 or Rick Drapala at 726-6896.
Hillary Davis can be reached at email@example.com or 539-6857. Find her on Facebook at Facebook.com/YSHillaryDavis or on Twitter at @YSHillaryDavis.