Rebuilding Together's 19th annual Kickoff To Rebuild, a Super Bowl XLVIII-sanctioned event
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.
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.
Meet Carrie Grip, Rebuilding Together's 2013 Executive Director of the Year
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!
A Message from John L. Fiegel: Midwest Natural Disasters
Dear Rebuilding Together Supporters,
On behalf of the Rebuilding Together Network, I would like to extend our thoughts and prayers to our families, friends, and neighbors experiencing devastating losses due to the tornadoes in Oklahoma and the recent and continued severe storms and flooding in the Midwest.
Rebuilding Together has been in communication with affiliate leaders from affected areas and assessing needs and capacity. We are also communicating with agencies such as NVOAD (National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster), which is coordinating an effective and efficient response as part of the larger disaster recovery community.
Rebuilding Together recognizes the critical need to assist those whose homes have been damaged or destroyed by natural disasters. As a national nonprofit working to provide safe and healthy housing for low-income homeowners, we know all too well that they are among the most vulnerable in times of disaster and have the most limited resources when it comes time to rebuild.
To be clear, Rebuilding Together is not a first responder organization. There are many other dedicated and hardworking organizations who are experts in addressing the immediate and short term needs of communities that have found themselves in harm’s way. We have joined with these organizations as a member of NVOAD to represent and address the long-term recovery needs faced by our homeowners and the communities where they live.
We will need your immediate and continuing support. We are accepting donations for our Disaster Recovery fund in anticipation of massive and ongoing rebuilding needs in Oklahoma. Community starts at home; please help us help others as they work to rebuild.