Marinda Riggins loved her charming older home in one of Bloomington’s original neighborhoods. She especially loved the times she and her 11-year-old daughter sat on the front porch swing, just talking about their day. Together, they leaned into their quiet outdoor space.
So, when the soffit in the corner of the porch roof started leaking, she knew she needed to do something right away. “I loved my porch,” said Riggins, “but it was old, and it had seen its day. The roof was rotting and had water damage because it was so flat and been neglected for years.”
Things got worse quickly when a heavy rain caused the soffit to fall.
Since she also needed some interior repairs, Riggins called several local contractors for quotes. They all said the same thing: not only did she need to repair the roof of the porch, she really needed to replace the whole front porch. After getting quotes upwards of $20,000, she decided to seek financial assistance.
The quotes, “were not even remotely feasible for my budget,” Riggins said. “I would have had to take out a loan; and I’m not sure I could even have done the loan at that point. So, I contacted The City first because they have a CDBG [community development block grant] program.”
When City of Bloomington employee Tony Brown came out for an inspection, he recommended that Riggins apply for assistance through Habitat McLean County’s home repair program A Brush With Kindness. It would make the project affordable, while the CDBG funds helped with the interior.
Riggins’ project was accepted and was underway in January of 2021. Since COVID was still restricting volunteers on site, her project was subcontracted by EMT Properties and Knapp Builders. “When they were doing the demolition,” remembered Riggins, “I could see what was under the porch, and I really thought it was more solid than that. It had deteriorated – it definitely needed to be replaced and not just fixed. So, this was a wonderful blessing.”
Through snow and ice delays that come with winter, the sub-contractors were able to come and complete the project and make her porch safe again. On one of those wintry days, one of them even helped Riggins open the frozen doors of her car.
“That kind of kindness just struck me,” Riggins said. “Not only did he notice that I was over there having a problem but also offered to do it for me. The guys were wonderful, friendly, and did a fantastic job”
Riggins works as a manager of her late parents’ estate - a farming legacy that was handed down to her and her siblings. She plans to give her daughter similar stability with their home on Willard Ave. With the porch swing back up, her daughter was able to do her remote schooling from her laptop on the porch. Previously house-bound cats Milla and Schroeder are now also able to enjoy the enclosed porch with their family.
The Riggins family have plans to paint the porch this fall. She looks forward to sitting outside in this new quiet outdoor space, drinking her morning coffee in the cool fall air.