Paint is peeling, wood is rotting, and walls are leaking. Members of For the Love of the Lake (FTOTL) have held off destruction — they replaced the roof shingles, trim and a rotting pillar. But the 1930s era Civilian Conservation Corps structure needed an “Extreme Makeover.”
“We’ve been talking about doing some work on that building for years,” says FTLOTL president Kevin Felton.
Then, a few months ago, a White Rock Home Depot employee appeared on FTLOTL’s doorstep searching for community service projects for the company’s new Team Depot program.
Andy Watkins, one of the Team Depot coordinators at the store on
at Jupiter, says FTLOTL members immediately signed him up for their Adopt-a-Shoreline cleanup project and the slow-going building refurbishing.
“Next thing I knew, we owned T.P. Hill, and we’d taken on the Big Thicket,” says the
The White Rock Home Depot has already donated $350 for supplies to start the Big Thicket work. The store also applied for a grant from Home Depot’s corporate office to expand the project. Watkins says he is also soliciting donations from the store’s suppliers.
Marci Novak, FTLOTL founder, says Home Depot employees made a lengthy list of repairs and upgrades — such as new lighting, a kitchen renovation and complete roof overhaul — that group members could never afford to do themselves.
“The scope of it has just increased exponentially. … We’re trying to take it back to its original architectural style as much as possible without doing a million-dollar rehab,” she says. “This time, it’s got huge momentum; it’s definitely a ‘go’ this time.”
More than 20 Home Depot employees volunteered to participate in the project on their own time, Watkins says.
“We have a lot of skilled labor at Home Depot. We’re the perfect people to do the work,” he says. “They are itching to do it. They keep asking, ‘When are we going to start?’”
Homebuilder Joe Dann, who lives in
“You can always find the money and the people,” he says. “Experience is the hardest thing to find, and that’s what they are bringing.
“I think we’ll make a lot of headway on it starting very soon. This is a little gem of a building, and it will be great when it’s finished.”
Volunteers expect work to start this month and last through the summer. At one time, the Big Thicket served as a concession stand and bicycle rental shop. Now, the city rents the building to the public for events and weddings.
Uptown Exchange Club, which holds its Cash Fish Family Bass Tournament at the lake, also supports the project. The club has given some of the event’s proceeds to FTLOTL, Novak says, and asked that the group use the money on the Big Thicket, the base camp for their event.
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