March 24, 2007
The Piedmont House is a place that gives those released from jail a second chance. On Saturday, more than 80 UVa students gave the house a second look.
“When you first get out, you're thinking, ‘what am I going to do, where do I start?,’” said Roy Ailiff, a Piedmont House resident.
Just like Roy, many getting out of jail start right at the Piedmont House, and for 90 days after their release, this is where they call home.
“We provide housing, meals, counseling, drug testing and alcohol testing services,” said Joe Soos, Piedmont House Director of Operations.
Piedmont House has everything needed to help the residents get back on their feet, but they say the house did not feel like a home. It was old and needed a lot of work.
“This is about a 100-year-old house,” said Soos.
On Saturday, members of a service fraternity at UVa gave the house a little TLC as part of their pledge project.
“We felt like this had the most need and we would be doing the most impact work here,” said Calder Pelep, a first-year student.
Students painted, landscaped, and built a porch rail, volleyball court, shed and fence, among a long list of projects.
“It’s kind of interesting to see it all come together in a material fashion, whereas before it was all the theories and planning,” said Chad Lane, a third-year student.
Joe said that without the students, improvements to the house aren't possible.
“We're kind of the red-headed stepchild of the community. We operate on kind of a financial tight rope every month,” said Soos.
However, for Ailiff, it’s about more than just cosmetic improvements, but students reaching out people they may not understand.
“When you look around and you've got 90 students here just doing all this for free out of the kindness of their hearts, it really touches my heart,” said Ailiff.
Students raised the money to pay for the project.