Wednesday May 10, 2006

Community Building

Couple helping to revitalize Dayton's East Third Street area receives UD's Mattie Davis and Joe Kanak Community Builders Award.

This year, the University of Dayton will award its Mattie Davis and Joe Kanak Community Builders Award to a couple who literally are community builders.

The eighth annual award, named after two long-time Dayton area community activists, will be given to Juan and Carmen Urbieta, who own a remodeling business and have been involved in community revitalization for more than 10 years. The couple has transformed several formerly vacant, boarded-up buildings on East Third Street into office and retail space.

"The breath and sweat that were put into these structures of decay are now attracting professional residents into the area," Chris Mantz wrote in the letter nominating the Urbietas for the award. "These spaces are bringing (a better) economy and hope to a once-shattered lifestyle."

In 2004, Preservation Dayton gave the couple its special recognition award, noting the Urbietas' efforts to preserve and enhance the historic architecture and fabric in the East Third Street area.

In addition, both are active in a variety of community initiatives. Carmen helped develop the East Dayton Business Association and is now its president. She also now heads the Book Club at Horace Mann Montessori School in Dayton, and she has been co-chair of the education committee and long-time board member for the National Association of the Remodeling Industry. Juan has worked pro bono on projects for the Huffman Historic Society to improve the neighborhood and is a long-time volunteer with Rebuilding Together Dayton. He also developed and presented Occupational Safety and Health Administration safety meetings in Spanish to area Hispanic construction workers who don't speak or read English.

The Urbietas will receive the award, given to an area resident who exemplifies vision and compassion toward neighborhood or community, during tomorrow's Citylinks Neighborhood Conference. The conference, which connects area residents with national community leaders to revitalize neighborhoods and empower grassroots leadership, is sponsored by UD's Raymond L. Fitz, S.M., Center for Leadership in Community, with support from DP&L.

For media interviews, contact Dean Lovelace at (937) 229-4643.