Birds Help Out, Renovate House Players, Other Team Employees Pitch In To Restore Rowhouse For Woman, 2 Kids

Posted: October 26, 1998

Amid the whine of power saws and the thumping of hammers, Eagles defensive tackle Hollis Thomas arrived around noon yesterday to join a swarm of red-shirted volunteer workers.

Thomas was one of several Eagles players, front-office personnel, a couple of cheerleaders and team mascot Swoop to forsake part of one of their only Sundays off this season and join the South Philadelphia affiliate of Habitat for Humanity in reconditioning a rowhouse on Colorado Street. Thomas had done this sort of thing before - but not in a while.

``I helped rebuild my grandmother's house when I was in the eighth grade,'' Thomas said. ``There was a fire.''

The home at 1016 Colorado St. will be occupied by Gloria Brown, a 36-year-old water department employee, and her sons Tyrone, 18, and Brihem Johnson, 4. Brown, who now lives at Broad Street and Cecil B. Moore Avenue, applied four months ago for a Habitat home. She and people recruited by her invested 250 hours of work on other homes, mixing mortar, shoveling dirt, hammering nails and such, thereby earning her shot at a Habitat home, one of 400 that Habitat officials hope to construct or recondition here by the year 2002.

Eagles representatives were only a small portion of the volunteers yesterday. Most came from the nine Delaware Valley affiliates of Habitat for Humanity. A contingent of kids on probation were there, too, part of the frequent Habitat work corps from the Drug Offenders Work Program. Other workers were future neighbors of Brown. And, of course, there was Brown herself.

``This is so great,'' Brown said of the home that will be completed in May. ``I'm very grateful.''

The Eagles seemed pleased to show up.

``I was just going to sit around the house and do nothing,'' Thomas reasoned, shrugging. ``It's just a couple of hours out of my day.''

A couple of well-spent hours, to be sure. While Thomas spent much of his stint shaking hands and signing autographs, cheerleaders Cheryl Williams and Andrea Langi were on the second story of the gutted home, framing a window and generally constructing. They were pretty serious about the job, as Swoop learned when he leaned through the window frame the women were building.

``Dude,'' Williams admonished from her perch on a ladder, level in hand, ``I've got work to do.''

Swoop retreated.

For more information about Habitat for Humanity, call 800-HABITAT or, locally, call (215) 977-3107.

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