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Neighborhood Banding Together To Help Neighbor In Need

HEIDI STREET – For more than three decades Garry Puda and most of his neighbors have built and maintained their homes in a quiet, modest neighborhood tucked in among the hills on the north side of La Mesa. In many ways it is California living at its best – sun drenched yards with mountain views.

But for much of the last 20 years, the neighborhood has watched as one home struggled to keep up. First the roof went and was temporarily covered with plastic. In time, the plastic became permanent.  Trees grew up and seemed to engulf the house. The garage door fell and the lawn went unkempt. City code enforcement would stop by but without access to the home could do little.

In some towns, conditions like this lead to anger between neighbors, lawsuits or at least screaming matches with City Hall.

Puda, a former teacher who now runs an import business, decided to take a different route. He talked to the neighbor. He learned of his struggles, caring for a sick aunt, struggling with employment issues and trying to put a child through college.
Hearing that and knowing there was a lot of building talent in the neighborhood, Puda, his wife Mary, and neighbors Fred and Patty Angulo decided to see if the Heidi Avenue neighborhood could solve this problem itself.

They started going door to door asking neighbors to contribute time, work, money or materials with the hope of getting a small army of La Mesans to spend the last two weekends in March, fixing the challenged home. They are calling it “The Heidi Street Makeover.’’

So far 21 neighbors have volunteered to provide all labor necessary to complete the renovation, but the effort still needs donations, including funds, construction supplies and some specialized talents and equipment.

The neighborhood is approaching local service groups to help establish a non-profit avenue for financial donations. Puda said the city has agreed to waive fees associated with the project. And local construction supply stores are considering donations to the effort.

What is needed most immediately now, Puda said, is:

 Roofing material – torch down
 20 2” x 8” x 12” fascia board
 Stucco paint & trim paint
 Artificial turf and gravel fill
 Fence wash and sealer
 Retainer wall brick
 Garage door – roll up
 $4,500 for purchasing supplies

Equipment needed:

 Dumpster service
 Porta Potty service

Services needed:

 Tree removal
 Professional roofing advisor

Puda and his army are taking a risk. City officials have cautioned that once work starts on a house that has needed repair for some time other problems can surface. But Puda said he saw this as the only way for the neighborhood to help solve a problem that has already lingered for more than a decade and the neighbors have agreed to join in.

Anyone interested in helping with The Heidi Street Makeover, what they are calling a “Neighborhood Volunteer Home Renovation Project’’ can contact Garry Puda at 619-665-6438 or by e-mail

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Tags: Heidi, Makeover, Street, renovation


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Comment by aldrete juan on March 2, 2011 at 3:57pm
Comment by Linda Knowles on March 1, 2011 at 7:51pm
That's MY brother . . .!
Comment by Deena on February 26, 2011 at 7:40am
I nominate Garry Puda for La Mesa Hero of the year 2011!  Now here is a man deserving of the title.
Comment by Karen Pearlman on February 23, 2011 at 12:10pm

Living the "Love thy neighbor as thyself" adage.

So nice read stories where people care about one another and work together to do the right thing.

A true MITZVAH in action.



Comment by Gregory Spire on February 22, 2011 at 12:41pm
This is a great example and I hope more neighborhoods start this trend.  Things like this is what we need to make La Mesa into.  Gary, hats off to you.
Comment by chris shea on February 22, 2011 at 9:43am

What a generous, lovely, truly neighborly thing to do.  Kind of makes me think and reflect on the words, "Who is my neighbor?"

Wishing that angels in abundance come out and help.  Where can people send financial donations?

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