Pastor Highlights Transformation Of CvFree Silver Location
Published: February 2nd, 2022
By: Sarah Genter

Pastor highlights transformation of cvFree Silver location Dave, Drew, and Dean Westervelt laying flooring at cvFree Silver, the satellite location of cvFree Church, located at 23 Silver Street in Norwich. The Westervelt family spent two and a half years completely renovating the home, which had leaking ceilings, bugs, and needles within when it was first purchased in 2019. (Submitted photo)

NORWICH — Three years ago, Pastor Jen Westervelt and her husband Dave purchased a home on the corner of Mechanic and Silver Street in Norwich. After two and a half years of intense renovations, the home now stands as a pillar of community service.

The main campus of cvFree Church is located at 4299 State Route 23, just outside of city limits. Westervelt said one of the reasons they wanted to expand was due to the need for transportation to reach the church, something that was inaccessible for some. So, when they saw a for sale sign in front of the seven-unit home in March of 2019, Westervelt said she and her husband were immediately interested.

However, the home was not without its problems; a meth lab had been discovered inside, which led to all residents being evacuated, and a loss of income for the owner. Eventually, the house went into foreclosure, and fell further into disrepair.

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"When we went and looked at this property, thinking that it would be a good opportunity to improve our community, to renovate it back, get the apartments rented, we were taken aback by just how bad it was in terms of condition," said Westervelt. "The roof had been leaking, there was literally water pouring down through the middle of the house, and it was just disgusting. There were dead bedbug carcasses, cockroach feces. It was just a plethora of nastiness."

After considering the purchase and praying for guidance, they put in a cash offer on the home. If accepted, their plan was to rent out four of the units, and donate the front downstairs portion of the house to cvFree Church to be used as their satellite location, cvFree Silver.

"So we’d basically just donate the space to the church, the church would pay utilities and have the use of it for downtown Norwich ministry outreach," Westervelt explained. "There are four units, four apartments that are rented to tenants ... The income from those apartments allows us to be able to donate the use of the other spaces to the church."

Their offer was accepted, and efforts to revitalize the home began, which was no easy task. Westervelt said they even found five drug "kits" and over 60 needles while they were remodeling the home. But, over the course of two and a half years Westervelt and her family, along with the help of church members and friends, completely transformed the property.

"We did pretty much all of the work ourselves. We did have to redo the entire roof, so we hired Shaver Contracting for that, and of course we hired local electricians and plumbers to help us. But it was our family who did the bulk of the renovations," said Westervelt. "We did have some volunteer demo days and work days, and so some of our friends and community members, people from church, came and helped a few times."

She added that even her teenage sons played an integral role in building the house up to what it is today, sacrificing weekends and summer vacations to get the work done.

"Drew and Dean basically laid all the flooring in that house," said Westervelt. "They're great kids. That was not easy work, for sure."

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Now, the home is not only a valuable faith-based resource for Norwich residents, it's also a powerful metaphor about positive personal change.

"The neighborhood did not have a good reputation, that house did not have a good reputation, and so our hope was that that house and the transformation that it would experience physically would be a really great metaphor for what we hoped it would do, what we hoped God would do, for people spiritually," said Westervelt. "So basically, that whole idea that the transformation from the inside out is what matters."

The metaphor rang true for some. According to Westervelt, The church holds weekly community meetings at the cvFree Silver location, one of which is a recovery and support group for those struggling with psychological and substance use disorders.

"One of the outreaches that happens from that, from cvFree Silver, is on Tuesday nights at 6 o’clock we have a faith-based recovery group that meets there. It’s called SOAR ... support, overcome, achieve, recovery," Westervelt said.

She recalled one attendee who explained that he used to use drugs in the very same house he was now attending a recovery meeting in, and quoted him as saying, "If this house can be changed like it has, there's hope for me to be transformed, too."

"That’s what it’s all about, that’s exactly why we’re doing what we're doing in that location," she continued. "Just like this house has transformed, you can be transformed. You don’t have to be the way you were before when you were letting drugs control your life, you can be clean and new, just like the house has been made clean and new."

cvFree Silver also hosts holiday events, such as their successful Christmas Eve service in 2021, and Westervelt said she hopes to offer an Easter service in the future. The popular Porchfest event which is also hosted by cvFree Silver and features music on the porch, cornhole, and children's activities, is also expected to return.

But, Westervelt said that is just the beginning, and the cvFree team is exploring ways to further expand their services.

"We’re just getting started. I mean, this is the first year that we’ve really been pouring in to this ministry, and we’re actively praying for God to show us exactly what the next steps are, because our team [is] considering, are we able to support a regular weekly service that is happening? Are we able to pull from [Golden Age], elderly residents who perhaps don’t have a church home?" she said. "So there are opportunities for both the faith-based recovery community, as well as the elderly in our community, as well as people who are just struggling because of a lack of transportation."

A large part of what they can provide to the community hinges on the amount of volunteers at the church. Volunteerism dropped due to the pandemic, and cvFree Church is now beginning to rebuild that facet of their organization.

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"A big part of it for us is that everything we do, we want to do it quality. So we need to have enough volunteers to be able to fully support ministry from that location," Westervelt explained. "So we just are in the process of building back our volunteer pool as a result of COVID. So that's why this is just going to take a lot of prayer and consideration, because we don’t want to burn out the people who are awesome and committed to us presently."

While it took over two years of hard work and dedication to accomplish, cvFree Silver is now a completely transformed home that is here to serve the community, and shows no signs of slowing down.

"It feels great, and it’s such a blessing to have other people from the community enjoying it now. That’s why we did this," said Westervelt.

More information on cvFree Church, cvFree Silver, and their services and programs can be found on their website,, or on the cvFree Church Facebook page.