Community Comes Together To Help Elderly Couple Fix Housing Issues

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JAMESTOWN – The Jamestown community is coming together to help an elderly couple make needed repairs to their lifelong home.

Joe and Donna Raffa have lived in their Walnut Street home for 30-plus years, and now, parts of the structure have fallen into disrepair.

Due to health issues, the two are not able to fix up the property on their own. They recently reached out to Susan Justham, the executive director of Love INC (Love, in the Name of Christ) of Southern Chautauqua County.

“Our role is to be distinctly different, so we took the time to listen to their story and find out what was going on,” said Justham.

The house needs a lot of work, like repairing the front porch including the steps and railway, along with tearing the fencing down, and other issues.

The lack of maintenance has led the City of Jamestown to levy several code violations against the elderly couple.

Since then, the Department of Development agreed to work with the Raffas and extended the deadline to address those violations, since they plan to take actions to remedy the issues.

However, they are not doing it alone. With the help of Justham, and volunteers like Jim Cama from the Zion Covenant Church, the community is coming together to lend a hand.

“Well I’ll put it out there but I don’t know, I don’t think we’re going to be able to, and same thing I put it out to the group, said hey is this something you think we could do,” explained Cama. “And a couple people from the group immediately responded and said you know what, we’ll take a look.”

Several local churches have come together to donate money, helping to cover the cost of materials to make the repairs. The Jamestown Renaissance Corporation is also lending a hand, matching money raised up to $4,000.

Participants believe that just speaking out about your problems, like the elderly couple did, is the first step in situations like this.

“A family can be struggling, and they can be struggling in silence and it’s not until someone is aware and an issue is brought to attention that anyone can step in and help,” furthered Justham.

The group hopes repairs to what is Joe Raffa’s childhood home will be finished by the end of the day Friday.


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