National Rebuilding Month Project Profile: Rebuilding Together Houston

There truly is no place like home. For Mildred, this sentiment resonates as dozens of volunteers work to breathe new life into her home. It’s been 44 years since Mildred first moved into her house in Houston from Bryan, Texas. It’s a place filled with love, happiness, and memories of her five children and late husband. She lost her husband in 1996 after he fell ill and became disabled. It was at that time she faced the many struggles in the upkeep of her home. She worked to do what she could to take care of it, but eventually she needed help.
 
Now, as volunteers with Rebuilding Together Houston gather their tools and roll up their sleeves, Mildred will finally receive the helping hand she has needed. Volunteers with The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston started exterior home repairs on March 29 and will continue into April. Volunteers will work to make a safer home for Mildred by replacing siding, installing a new side door and storm door, replacing window panes and screens, repairing rotten wood, and scraping and painting the whole house. The crew is even taking a few more steps to reestablish flower gardens, clean up potted plants, cut down dead tree limbs, and even paint the shed for a nice touch to match the house.

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The volunteer group from The University of Texas Health Science Center call themselves the UT House Medics. They are a longtime supporter of Rebuilding Together Houston and have been providing volunteer crews since the early 1990s. Since then, they’ve repaired more than 70 homes and they don’t intend on stopping anytime soon.

“Without Rebuilding Together Houston I am a fish out of water!” says the group’s Crew Leader, Dennie Clemons. “We touch lives in so many different ways. We heal the hearts of many. Our volunteers love our homeowners and our homeowners love us.” 

The feeling is definitely mutual for Mildred. Since the day the volunteers first showed up to visit, she can’t stop praising their efforts saying, “I’m enjoying them so much. It is truly an experience. Every little thing I’ve ever gotten I’ve had to try and pay for it a little at a time. I’m so grateful to be getting this. I’m so thankful.”

This project is part of National Rebuilding Month, a nationwide call to provide safe and healthy homes for America’s low-income homeowners and families at no cost to the recipients across the country during the month of April leading up to National Rebuilding Day on April 26, an annual culmination of the month’s events. Last year across the country, more than 50,000 volunteers served at over 3,000 affiliate-led rebuild projects during the month of April. National Rebuilding Month is embraced by community leaders and national corporate partners as a way of bringing immediate, large-scale impact to communities across America in a single month. Follow the projects at on Facebook and Twitter (#rtnrm). Learn more at www.rebuildingtogether.org/nrm2014/

National Rebuilding Month Project Profile: Rebuilding Together Dayton

Living on less than $700 a month, Margaret, the widow of a US Air Force veteran, and her adult son Michael, a US Army veteran, are faced with difficult decisions every day. She raised 4 sons and 4 daughters while working as a machine operator in San Antonio. She moved to Dayton in 1990 when her sister died. She and her son have done everything they can to take care of their home, but right now they could use some help.

 

Through a grant from the Sears Heroes at Home program and funding from MetLife, Rebuilding Together Dayton will be able to provide critical repairs and renovations to Margaret’s home- easing the burden on her very tight budget.

Margaret’s arthritis is to the point where she requires a walker to get around and is not able to get in and out of her tub without assistance. She is currently only able to bathe once per week. Rebuilding Together Dayton will fully renovate her bathroom- including installing a step in shower and grab bars so Margaret can safely access her shower.

 

As volunteers, employees from MetLife, Standard Register, and ACCO will also replace an exterior door, repair and patch walls and the ceiling and provide landscaping clean-up.

“It [volunteering] was my chance to give back. Many people are in need in the Dayton community. By helping those who have lived in their homes, raised families (sometimes multiple generations) and are now at a point where they don’t have the means to make necessary repairs, it is beyond rewarding to spend the time and make a difference,” said Brian Haines, house captain for Rebuilding Together Dayton. “This impact affects the houses next door, the street, and ultimately the entire community. The appreciation and thanks can be seen in their faces and felt in the hugs they give as we finish up.”

This project is part of National Rebuilding Month, a nationwide call to provide safe and healthy homes for America’s low-income homeowners and families across the country during the month of April leading up to National Rebuilding Day on April 26, an annual culmination of the month’s events. Last year across the country, more than 50,000 volunteers served at over 3,000 affiliate-led rebuild projects during the month of April. National Rebuilding Month is embraced by community leaders and national corporate partners as a way of bringing immediate, large-scale impact to communities across America in a single month. Follow the projects at on Facebook and Twitter (#rtnrm). Learn more at www.rebuildingtogether.org/nrm2014/

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie addresses the crowd at Rebuilding Together's 19th annual Super Bowl-sanctioned Kickoff to Rebuild event. 
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.

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie addresses the crowd at Rebuilding Together's 19th annual Super Bowl-sanctioned Kickoff to Rebuild event. 

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.

Rebuilding Together’s 19th annual Kickoff To Rebuild, a Super Bowl XLVIII-sanctioned event

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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.

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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.

Teresa lives in her home with her husband, Clifford, their daughter, son-in-law and grandson, a recent college graduate.

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.

Read more about Kickoff to Rebuild 2014 and learn how to get involved.

Meet Carrie Grip, Rebuilding Together’s 2013 Executive Director of the Year

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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.”

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.

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.”

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.”

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.

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.