Volunteer Louisiana honors retirees working through pandemic

Local News

BATON ROUGE, La. (BR Proud) — A division of the Lt. Governor’s office, Volunteer Louisiana, recognize the state’s most outstanding volunteers every year. In 2020, one of the Capital Area’s top honorees, the Silver Hammers, is a group that gathers twice weekly to volunteer with Rebuilding Together Baton Rouge. The group is comprised of retirees from various walks of life including government, corporate, and industry backgrounds.

The non-profit Rebuilding Together Baton Rouge provide home repairs to low-income residents, who are often elderly or disabled. “We could not have done it without the Silver Hammers,” said Executive Director Chris Andrews. “They’ve been our mainstay. Our volunteer corps literally went away overnight.”

The coronavirus pandemic forced many people to cancel travel plans and stay indoors, but the needs of the community continued. The Silver Hammers never stopped gathering and working — rain or shine.

“I think what really came through with this group is the selflessness, that nobody wanted to be the leader of the band,” said Judd Jeansonne, the executive director for Volunteer Louisiana. “They really wanted this to be a group recognition.”

The Silver Hammers received Capital Area Champions of Service award on Sept. 30. “They’ve helped rebuild homes after the floods. They’ve helped build wheelchair access ramps for persons with disabilities. They’ve been a real asset to this community,” said Jeansonne.

“If it weren’t for their work repairing homes for the elderly and disadvantaged populations, including rebuilding over 60 flooded homes and building hundreds of wheelchair ramps, many residents would live in unsafe conditions or not be able to return to their homes at all.”

Volunteer Louisiana statement (9/25/20)

The Silver Hammers have a decades-long history of giving back. The original group was co-founded by Thomas Pruyn, who helped start the group with fellow members of Broadmoor United Methodist Church in the late 1980’s.

“Exxon had bought all the houses around their plant for a safety zone and they were donating houses to Habitat to move off the site so that was our big job, moving those houses and then setting them up,” said Pruyn of the group’s early desire to serve the community.

“Its a wonderful group of people doing wonderful work and I didn’t want to see it die out and it hasn’t, and I’m really pleased at that,” said Pruyn.

Anyone wishing to show their support for the Silver Hammers is encouraged to make a donation to Rebuilding Together Baton Rouge.

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