Heavy floods speed up support for Community Center

If it had not been for the heavy floods that hit the city of Halle near Bitterfeld in Germany, the local Community Center 'Peissnitzhaus' would not have been renovated so quickly. Initially, Rebekka Kunth from Industrial Chemicals in Bitterfeld had planned to start an activity for this cultural center and meeting point with support from the Community Program in 2014. Together with her colleague Amanda Anhoff she had already begun to brainstorm about the possibilities to refurbish the dilapidated Peissnitzhaus near their homes in Halle. When the highest floods in over 600 years hit Halle and severely damaged the center, they were quick to respond and bring their plans into practice sooner than anticipated.

The house is a well-loved meeting point for young families, but also other community members use the location to relax in their spare time and to enjoy a wide cultural program. It was built in 1892 and an association was established in 2003, directed at supporting young children and youngsters. In 2010 a major renovation took place to equip the building in such a way that it could serve as a place where people from various generations could meet and enjoy themselves.

The residents in Halle immediately joined hands to help fight the rising water by placing sand bags but as the water rose very quickly, not all furniture in the building could be saved. After the floods had gone, help was required everywhere for clean-up and repair. Rebekka and Amanda realized that it would be sensible to start their 'Peissnitzhaus project' as soon as possible. In close consultation with the association running the house, it was decided to install an insulation system for the walls of the adjoining café so that this could also remain open during the winter months. The Community Program staff was contacted and additional means for post relief support were made available to cover the costs for the insulation.

The two ladies managed to interest more colleagues to help with the various tasks. It appeared to be a major job as the old wall paper had to be removed and wood panels made to measure. These were first prepared with wood protection products and subsequently installed and finished by painting them. It took our volunteering colleagues several weeks but the project was finished in time. Thanks to the insulated walls the café has less heating costs and can now be used for events all year long, generating more income.

Thanks to the prompt action of our colleagues in Bitterfeld, the Community Center has emerged from the water in a much better condition than before. The classic saying of the famous Dutch soccer player Johan Cruyff is very true in this case: 'every disadvantage has its advantage'!