Working alongside Rebuilding Together Bergen County and Lowe’s, Kickoff to Rebuild’s presenting sponsor, more than 150 volunteers from other sponsors, past and present NFL players, celebrities and community leaders are completing home repairs for 13 local low-income homeowners. Volunteers are also revitalizing two community spaces as part of continued rebuilding efforts in communities affected by Superstorm Sandy.
Kickoff to Rebuild is an annual NFL-sanctioned event hosted by Rebuilding Together. For 19 years, Rebuilding Together has partnered with the NFL and the local Rebuilding Together affiliate in Super Bowl cities across the country, rebuilding houses and bringing together neighborhoods, home by home, block by block, because everyone deserves to live in a safe and healthy home.
In October 2013 we mobilized hundred of volunteers to provide critical repairs to 13 homes in the borough of Moonachie, NJ and now on January 31, we will do it again. Working alongside Rebuilding Together Bergen County and Lowe’s, Kickoff to Rebuild’s presenting sponsor, more than 150 volunteers from other sponsors, past and present NFL players, celebrities and community leaders will complete home repairs for 13 local low-income homeowners. Volunteers also will revitalize two community spaces as part of continued rebuilding efforts in communities affected by Superstorm Sandy.
The finishing touches will be put on the new playground by Carter Oosterhouse, founder of the Carter’s Kids Foundation. The playground was built at the October pre-event. Rebuilding Together and Lowe’s partnered with Carter’s Kids to build a new playground as part of the rebuild in October. Carter’s Kids was founded by Carter Oosterhouse of HGTV’s Million Dollar Rooms and Celebrity Motor Homes, to increase the activity level of kids by building and developing community parks and neighborhood playgrounds.
View photos of the volunteers hard at work during the pre-event in October on our Flickr page.
Meet a few of the homeowners who will soon be able to fully live in their homes once again:
Rob grew up in Moonachie mowing the lawn and shoveling the snow for the older woman who then lived in his home. When she moved, she advised him to purchase her home, which he later did. Rob now lives in that home with his wife, Kristina, and his sons, Donovan, 10, and Colin, 4. Kristina’s mother and sister live in the second rental unit of the home.
Rob currently works for New Jersey Department of Transportation and Kristina is a full time mother to Donovan and Colin who both have special needs.
On the night of the storm Rob was not home, so Kristina reached out to her in-laws for help with the boys. That night, water filled the lower level reaching over five feet. Water filled their living room, dining room, bathroom and destroyed both units’ furnaces and hot water heaters.
Rob, Kristina and the boys are living in the top floor of their unit right now. The space is cramped and very difficult for the boys. They are very excited to be able to live in their whole house again. They hope to make some improvements to the home to accommodate the boys’ special needs. One big change is an open living concept that will allow the parents to keep an eye on the boys at all times
Teresa was up praying the night of the flood and saw the water coming towards her home. Thankfully the water didn’t enter the first floor of her home, but it did fill the crawl space damaging the furnace, hot water heater, and her family’s cars.
Clifford is an Air Force veteran having served in Germany for four years and as a reservists for another four years. He then worked for Great Bear Spring Water for 30 years as a delivery driver and dispatcher.
Teresa suffers from COPD. The flood water touched the hard wood floors in the bedrooms, so it is important to replace the flooring as mold and mildew may lead to additional respiratory issues.
Photo courtesy of Malia Rae Photography
Meet Carrie Grip of Rebuilding Together Sacramento, the 2013 Executive Director of the Year. Carrie joined Rebuilding Together Sacramento in 1999 as its first staff member, and has led the affiliate ever since as the organization’s only executive director.
She first learned about Rebuilding Together through the tech company she was working with at the time. The company was working with the local Sacramento affiliate for one of their community service projects. Carrie was asked to manage a rebuild day, and from then on, she was hooked.
When Carrie heard that the local all-volunteer affiliate was seeking to hire their first paid executive director, she went for it. She knew what it would take: she’d worked a rebuilding day from the sponsor end as a volunteer coordinator and had a good idea of how such an event came together. She knew it would be hard work, but also that it would be well worth it.
What kind of work draws someone in and keeps them on board year after year? When we asked Carrie to share a moment that shows what her work is all about, she described a wonderful woman whose home Rebuilding Together Sacramento rebuilt. The homeowner was very active in her community and “everyone loved her,” said Carrie. Two hundred volunteers came together through a big church in the area to help rebuild their beloved neighbor’s home. The homeowner didn’t see any of the work in progress, and when she was brought in for the big reveal tour, Carrie remembers her crying with joy and gratitude as she looked around her newly safe and healthy home. The most memorable moment came, perhaps surprisingly, when they got to the bathroom. The homeowner reached down into the bathtub and turned on the faucet. As she stuck her hand under the stream of warm water, she said, “This is the first time I’ve had hot water for ten years.” This beloved friend to all, who baked pies and looked after neighborhood children, had been heating water on her stove and carrying it to the bathroom in pots to fill her tub and bathe for a decade. The image of her hand under the water is vivid in Carrie’s memory to this day.
That’s the kind of impact every Rebuilding Together project has on the safety and health of homeowners nationwide. You might not see such transformation from the outside of the house, but it makes all the difference in the world of each homeowner served. This homeowner lived without water behind closed doors, and Rebuilding Together Sacramento ensured that her home was made safe and healthy. That’s the kind of work that keeps people like Carrie, who are passionate, skilled and giving, hooked on the work we do together.
Carrie’s nominator described her as “very hands on and open minded with all management and employee situations…the phrase ‘can’t do’ is not in her vocabulary. If there is an opportunity that will benefit her affiliate, she goes for it with spirit and enthusiasm that rubs off on the rest of the team. Her dedication creates immense loyalty.”
“I love the organization,” she said. “I think what we’re doing is great. It’s something that’s valuable, unique, rewarding and badly needed.” Carrie is happy to come to work every day, which she says is “really special.” She feels blessed to work with the volunteers and staff we work with on a daily basis. “You get attached to people who work at affiliates,” she says. “They’re such great people, and we learn so much from one another.” In her earlier days, she also enjoyed the flexible hours that allowed her to spend time raising her daughter. She happily recalled her daughter roller skating around the Rebuilding Together warehouse and helping to fold t-shirts. Fourteen years after joining Rebuilding Together Sacramento, Carrie is still as glad to be here as she was then: “I still like it, there’s still more to do.” She feels very motivated by what we do, and the potential she sees around the network. She is excited by the new things that are always happening, and wants to see what more we can accomplish and how we can grow.
Carrie has followed her vision of a full service housing agency, and has led great growth at Rebuilding Together Sacramento. Thanks to her hard work and commitment, Rebuilding Together Sacramento has grown from a $100,000 budget a $1.3 million budget, with an impact of 4,230 projects valued at $14 million, and from two to five highly successful programs. As a Rebuilding Together thought leader, Carrie is at the table helping to shape Rebuilding Together, Inc.’s Foundation for the Future under our new President and CEO Charley Shimanski in addition to her work at Rebuilding Together Sacramento. While Carrie received her award back in November at our National Conference in Washington, DC, we would like to take this opportunity to thank her again for her dedication and service, and congratulate her on this well-deserved honor!
Would you like to kick off the New Year by helping a homeowner in need? Just visit rebuildingtogether.org/help/ to get started today.
Angie and her son have spent over a decade living in their home. While being a full-time mom, she works odd jobs to make ends meet. She’s become a staple in her community by being the first one her neighbors come to when they need a babysitter.
Her son has autism and suffers from a respiratory condition that makes it difficult for him to breathe. The home’s air vents had become so clogged that dust would blow out whenever air flowed. This outpouring of dust made Angie’s son’s condition even worse. The electricity in their kitchen didn’t work, so Angie had to plug her fridge into an extension cord that was plugged into another room. Their door frames had rotted, preventing the locks on the doors from latching.
Volunteers from Rebuilding Together Anne Arundel County spent two days making sure Angie’s home was safe and healthy for her and her son. They cleaned out the air vents and repaired the filters to prevent future dust build up, they replaced the rotted door frames, the front and back doors, their ceiling fans, and fixed her kitchen’s electrical circuit. They also repaired her cabinets and staircase railings.
While working on Angie’s home, Rebuilding Together Anne Arundel County volunteers realized she didn’t own any living room furniture. They quickly brought Angie to a local store and bought her new furniture.
Barbara Cupp, the executive director of Rebuilding Together Anne Arundel County, said that Angie was so excited about the renovations and new furniture that she took a picture with every single volunteer.
After the repairs were completed, Angie wrote a note to Rebuilding Together Anne Arundel saying, “Thank you for making my home a more comfortable place to live. My son and I are forever grateful. I never would have been able to afford the repairs. Thank you from the bottom of my heart and god bless you all.”
Margie and Jimmy have been married for 50 years and live in the West Bank neighborhood of New Orleans. Jimmy, a Marine Corps vet, is just one of several veterans that live in this community, which Rebuilding Together New Orleans has been focusing on recently. Margie spends a lot of her time taking care of her husband ever since he had a stroke. Due to the stroke, he must use a wheelchair.
When Rebuilding Together New Orleans was canvassing the area to find low-income homeowners to help, they saw Margie tending to her beautiful garden. All she said their house needed was small repairs in their kitchen.
Rebuilding Together New Orleans quickly realized this modest couple needed much more than just a few kitchen repairs. Their house lacked a door handle, which posed a significant safety risk. Only half of the ceiling tiles were intact and mold had started growing in the ceiling. Volunteers quickly got to work painting their exterior and replacing the broken door knobs, damaged siding, and the kitchen ceiling tiles.
Rebuilding Together Arlington/Fairfax/Falls Church recently worked with Handyman Corps, the USAA, and Duty First Consulting to repair the home of Andrew and Judy.
Andrew spent the first six years of his life in a Native American reservation. His family moved to the Buffalo, NY, area and he later joined the army. He eventually settled down in Northern Virginia after traveling around the U.S. after his tour of service. He spent some time living with his sister before getting a job at a government employee market. It’s there he met fellow employee and future wife Judy, who he married in 1966.
The couple has faced serious health problems. Judy was born legally blind, and Andrew had to have a triple bypass surgery due to a heart attack. However, the surgeon removed the wrong artery. He had to have one of his legs amputated due to complications from that surgical mistake.
The couple doesn’t let their health keep them down. Judy works in customer service for an HVAC company. Andrew drives her to work every day and waits for her in the parking lot or visits other stores in the area. He also spends his time painting and making figurines inspired by his Native American heritage.
Handyman Corps volunteers replaced the couple’s railings, repaired their ramp, and repaired their doors and door frames. Andrew worked alongside the Handyman Corps volunteers as much as he could.
USAA and Duty First Consulting volunteers installed a raised toilet, a carbon monoxide detector, and cleaned out their drains. Volunteers also painted their ramp to help preserve it and smooth out any splinters. They also painted their roof white to help keep their home cool in the summer by reflecting sun light.
After the work was completed, Andrew called Rebuilding Together Arlington/Fairfax/Falls Church and said, “It’s only been a day, but I miss everybody like heck already.”
Mack is a 76-year-old U.S. Air Force veteran. He is on oxygen due to emphysema and uses a walker and motorized scooter to move around. He was completely housebound for three years until the VA installed a chairlift in his home three months ago.
Mack’s wife recently passed away, and his home still needed more repairs and safety modifications if he was going to continue living there alone. Rebuilding Together Metro Chicago volunteers built him an accessible back porch, including a new backdoor, ramps, and improved exterior lighting.
Mack served 12 years during the conflicts in Vietnam and Korea. He was stationed in Germany, Japan, and Greenland. He said, “It was a wonderful time in my life and very important to me to serve my country. I don’t regret a single moment of it.”
Shirley, 59, is the primary caregiver for her 16-year-old daughter, Alyssa, who has been diagnosed with cerebral palsy. They sought help from Rebuilding Together Sacramento because their home lacked the proper safety modifications that could allow Alyssa to move around freely.
Rebuilding Together Sacramento volunteers installed several grab bars in their bathroom’s shower area. They also built a new ramp that leads from the backdoor to the backyard. Alyssa can now safely leave her home and enjoy her family’s backyard. Volunteers installed parallel bars in the backyard so Alyssa could safely walk up and down the entire length of the yard. Another ramp was installed from the family’s garage to their car.
Shirley told the volunteers, “The ramps are the greatest gifts.” She was also very pleased that her daughter can now exercise outside thanks to the parallel bars.
Rebuilding Together Omaha helped Beverly, 76, continue to age in place in her home, which she has lived in for 20 years.
Housing and poverty have become serious problems in Beverly’s Omaha neighborhood. Beverly, a soft spoken and quiet woman, applied to Rebuilding Together Omaha looking for home repairs that would make her home more accessible.
Volunteers replaced Beverly’s claw foot tub with a more accessible one. They also installed grab bars and a new showerhead. Members of the National Association of The Remodeling Industry (NARI) also repaired the front and back porches of her home, installing a stoop and handrails. Contractors repaired Beverly’s roof as well.
After the renovations were done, Beverly told the volunteers, “Thanks for helping me.”
Rebuilding Together Greater Milwaukee helped Fred and Wilma transform their house into a safe and healthy home.
Fred and Wilma have lived in their home for nearly 40 years. It’s where they raised their five children and now care for their six grandchildren. These retirees live on a fixed income and staying in their home as they age has become increasingly difficult.
Their one bathroom only had a claw foot tub, making getting in and out of the tub difficult for Fred and Wilma. The two were very afraid of falling trying to get in and out of the bath. With the help of an occupational therapist, Rebuilding Together Greater Milwaukee installed a new showerhead, several grab bars, and a new chair height toilet.