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Grant award brings covid packages for Miller Homes residents / November 16, 2020

Residents of Miller Homes in South Boston received covid-related care packages with Thanksgiving dinners Friday, all part of a National Equity Fund grant to Southside Outreach Group, which manages the Poplar Creek Street apartment complex.

The assistance was made possible through a $5,000 grant award from NEF, a nonprofit Chicago-based affiliate of Local Initiatives Support Corporation. The organization focuses on creating affordable housing, revitalizing communities, and strengthening local economies around the U.S.

Earl Howerton, executive director of Southside Outreach Group, said he discovered the grant while surfing the internet in search of COVID-19 relief funds. NEF offers grants of $5,000 up to $10,000 for project-specific requests.

Grateful residents of Miller Homes received COVID-19 relief packages stocked with personal protective equipment (masks, gloves, hand sanitizer, disinfectant, Lysol) and a Thanksgiving dinner with all the fixings. All items were free.

“This is really nice for the families at Thanksgiving time,” said Arnita Lacks, who was waiting in the receiving line for her daughter’s family of seven. Lack’s daughter has been a resident of Miller Homes for the past three years.

Southside Outreach distributed letters and flyers to residents to let them know of the availability of the care packages. Residents lined up Friday in the apartment complex parking lot to receive the items. Many volunteers and residents helped those who were unable to walk and carry heavy groceries at the same time.

One resident delivered the goods to her neighbor who is blind. The apartment residents expressed thanks for the gifts, observing that every kind gesture makes a huge impact in their daily lives during these difficult times.

Speaking to the residents of Miller Homes, Howerton said, “It is unfortunate that we have a deadly virus like the coronavirus amongst us, we want to help you be safe.”

Southside Outreach also set aside a portion of the money to purchase two new computers and a printer for the community room. The computer room is available to residents during the day from 9 a.m.-3 p.m. and by appointment. Everyone is able to access the complex’s 24-hour Wi-Fi hotspot to surf the internet from the parking lot.

“We hope that providing this technology will help all the children with their virtual learning,” said Howerton, referring to the home-based school year for Halifax County students so far in the 2020-21 school year.

Miller Homes, formerly Fairmont Apartments, was purchased by Southside Outreach Group and renovated from 2014 to 2016. The affordable housing organization has made many improvements to the complex, including the community room technology upgrades. Tameka Vaden, a financial assistant with Southside Outreach, said with most grant applications it takes a long time to get a response from the funder. However, with the NEF request, “we heard back within two weeks that our application was approved,” she said.

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