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/

Mr Lawrence, 71, moved back to his childhood home in Tulsa in 1999 after his wife passed away. 
His childhood memories are as fresh as ever. “I remember rolling around on this very floor as a little boy. We used to catch fireflies in the frontyard.”
Mr. Lawrence is the father of six kids and “too many grandchildren and great grandchildren to count.” He jokes saying, “I think there are 15,000.”
Rebuilding Together Tulsa renovated Mr. Lawrence’s home to ensure that he can age in place in a safe and healthy home. Volunteers installed air sealing, attic insulation, two new doors with deadbolts, handrails, and new siding. They also replaced the home’s drywall and repaired his plumbing. Mr. Lawrence’s home is now more energy efficient, weatherproof and accessible.
As part of their National Rebuilding Month celebration on April 20, Rebuilding Together Tulsa will send another team of volunteers to paint the outside of Mr. Lawrence’s home and clean up his yard. Mr. Lawrence’s home is just one of 16 projects happening that day for Rebuilding Together Tulsa. His neighborhood in particular is in great need of critical home repairs and community revitalization. 
Mr. Lawrence had this to say about his Rebuilding Together experience, “I love these guys volunteering. They are good people. You can see the light shining in them when they walk through the door.”

Mr Lawrence, 71, moved back to his childhood home in Tulsa in 1999 after his wife passed away. 

His childhood memories are as fresh as ever. “I remember rolling around on this very floor as a little boy. We used to catch fireflies in the frontyard.”

Mr. Lawrence is the father of six kids and “too many grandchildren and great grandchildren to count.” He jokes saying, “I think there are 15,000.”

Rebuilding Together Tulsa renovated Mr. Lawrence’s home to ensure that he can age in place in a safe and healthy home. Volunteers installed air sealing, attic insulation, two new doors with deadbolts, handrails, and new siding. They also replaced the home’s drywall and repaired his plumbing. Mr. Lawrence’s home is now more energy efficient, weatherproof and accessible.

As part of their National Rebuilding Month celebration on April 20, Rebuilding Together Tulsa will send another team of volunteers to paint the outside of Mr. Lawrence’s home and clean up his yard. Mr. Lawrence’s home is just one of 16 projects happening that day for Rebuilding Together Tulsa. His neighborhood in particular is in great need of critical home repairs and community revitalization. 

Mr. Lawrence had this to say about his Rebuilding Together experience, “I love these guys volunteering. They are good people. You can see the light shining in them when they walk through the door.”

Nick, Dale, and Dave are dedicated and passionate volunteers for Rebuilding Together South Sound. Rachel Lehr, the AmeriCorps year round coordinator for Rebuilding Together South Sound, described them as their “go to guys for projects.”
These retired electricians have been volunteering their time and skills for 18 months. And in that year and a half, they’ve completed 15 projects. In fact, Rachel finds it hard to keep up with their demand of work. Nick, Dale, and Dave would love it if they could complete a project every week.
"We completely trust them," said Rachel. "If we need to widen doorways or fix steps, they can totally do it. They know homes and understand their structure."
The math of their impact doesn’t lie. This trio has donated nearly $9,000 of market value between their time and skills through the projects they’ve completed themselves. That dollar amount rises to $54,000 if you count the projects they helped out with. 
"It’s not something they have to do - they want to," Rachel explained. "They think it’s important to help people. They like Rebuilding Together because they get to meet the people they’re helping.”

Nick, Dale, and Dave are dedicated and passionate volunteers for Rebuilding Together South Sound. Rachel Lehr, the AmeriCorps year round coordinator for Rebuilding Together South Sound, described them as their “go to guys for projects.”

These retired electricians have been volunteering their time and skills for 18 months. And in that year and a half, they’ve completed 15 projects. In fact, Rachel finds it hard to keep up with their demand of work. Nick, Dale, and Dave would love it if they could complete a project every week.

"We completely trust them," said Rachel. "If we need to widen doorways or fix steps, they can totally do it. They know homes and understand their structure."

The math of their impact doesn’t lie. This trio has donated nearly $9,000 of market value between their time and skills through the projects they’ve completed themselves. That dollar amount rises to $54,000 if you count the projects they helped out with. 

"It’s not something they have to do - they want to," Rachel explained. "They think it’s important to help people. They like Rebuilding Together because they get to meet the people they’re helping.”

What makes you give back to your community? Here’s what some of our volunteers had to say about working with Rebuilding Together. 
"The people are so appreciative. An old couple was almost in tears because someone helped and cared that much. Another woman kept watching and interacting with everyone. She saw her house transform in front of her eyes." - Jim Kahle    “We have neighbors who need help and we can help them.” - Jerry Liu    “It takes a special mindset to see the value of doing something for the benefit of others.” - Earl Sires      “I think we all owe our community something. We live here, earn a living here, raise our families here. We all owe dues to our community.” - Jerry Liu    “God gave me the ability to put two feet on the floor, to swing a hammer, and people like Janelle can’t do that. Just because she can’t do it herself, doesn’t mean she can’t have it or doesn’t deserve it.” - John Gaspari  

What makes you give back to your community? Here’s what some of our volunteers had to say about working with Rebuilding Together. 

"The people are so appreciative. An old couple was almost in tears because someone helped and cared that much. Another woman kept watching and interacting with everyone. She saw her house transform in front of her eyes." - Jim Kahle   

“We have neighbors who need help and we can help them.” - Jerry Liu   

“It takes a special mindset to see the value of doing something for the benefit of others.” - Earl Sires     

“I think we all owe our community something. We live here, earn a living here, raise our families here. We all owe dues to our community.” - Jerry Liu   

“God gave me the ability to put two feet on the floor, to swing a hammer, and people like Janelle can’t do that. Just because she can’t do it herself, doesn’t mean she can’t have it or doesn’t deserve it.” - John Gaspari  

On February 1st, Rebuilding Together will celebrate our 18th Annual Kickoff to Rebuild, a Super Bowl sanctioned charity event. NFL stars Garrett Hartley and Robert Royal will join our volunteers as we renovate the homes of low-income homeowners in New Orleans. Below are just some of the stories of the people we are helping.
The Moores
Mr. and Mrs. Moore are childhood sweethearts who have been married for nearly 35 years. Mr. Moore served in the Navy for two years shortly after graduating from high school. The Moores’ eldest son and daughter share their father’s passion for service and joined the Air Force. Their daughter assisted her fellow New Orleanians during and after Hurricane Isaac. 
"I’ve been around the world, and no matter where you go, there ain’t no place quite like New Orleans," said Mr. Moore. The Moores plan on watching the Super Bowl together in their newly renovated home.
Anthony Hudson and Lauren Pope
Anthony Hudson joined the military after graduating high school and served one term as an Ammunition Specialist. While being stationed in Iraq, he watched as Hurricane Katrina ravaged New Orleans. Ever since being honorably discharged, he has dedicated himself to improving the quality of life for his family and others around him.
Anthony and Lauren are engaged and have three children together. The renovations they’re receiving will make their house a safe and healthy home for their kids to grow up in. 
Lois Paige
Lois Paige has lived in New Orleans for over 90 years. This retired elementary school teacher, wife, and mother has been a strong contributor within her community. Her proudest moment came when her daughter graduated from Tulane University’s Newcomb College with a Bachelor’s Degree in Education.
Due to arthritis and other health issues, it is difficult for Ms. Paige to move around her house. Ms. Paige receives excellent care from her daughter and a sense of security from living next door to her grandson. However, the critical home repairs she will receive will greatly better her quality of life. 

On February 1st, Rebuilding Together will celebrate our 18th Annual Kickoff to Rebuild, a Super Bowl sanctioned charity event. NFL stars Garrett Hartley and Robert Royal will join our volunteers as we renovate the homes of low-income homeowners in New Orleans. Below are just some of the stories of the people we are helping.

The Moores

Mr. and Mrs. Moore are childhood sweethearts who have been married for nearly 35 years. Mr. Moore served in the Navy for two years shortly after graduating from high school. The Moores’ eldest son and daughter share their father’s passion for service and joined the Air Force. Their daughter assisted her fellow New Orleanians during and after Hurricane Isaac. 

"I’ve been around the world, and no matter where you go, there ain’t no place quite like New Orleans," said Mr. Moore. The Moores plan on watching the Super Bowl together in their newly renovated home.

Anthony Hudson and Lauren Pope

Anthony Hudson joined the military after graduating high school and served one term as an Ammunition Specialist. While being stationed in Iraq, he watched as Hurricane Katrina ravaged New Orleans. Ever since being honorably discharged, he has dedicated himself to improving the quality of life for his family and others around him.

Anthony and Lauren are engaged and have three children together. The renovations they’re receiving will make their house a safe and healthy home for their kids to grow up in. 

Lois Paige

Lois Paige has lived in New Orleans for over 90 years. This retired elementary school teacher, wife, and mother has been a strong contributor within her community. Her proudest moment came when her daughter graduated from Tulane University’s Newcomb College with a Bachelor’s Degree in Education.

Due to arthritis and other health issues, it is difficult for Ms. Paige to move around her house. Ms. Paige receives excellent care from her daughter and a sense of security from living next door to her grandson. However, the critical home repairs she will receive will greatly better her quality of life. 

Need some inspiration? Here’s a look at some of our favorite quotes from the homeowners we’ve helped. 
“I thank Rebuilding Together every day of my life. I love all those volunteers. I appreciate them and my heart goes out to them wherever they may be.” - Andrea Spencer.
“I love how family oriented Rebuilding Together is…I almost lost my home. I feel like I need to give back.” - Felicia Byrd. 
“My experience with all of you is much better than winning the lottery! Money is great, but it pales in comparison to the kindness shown to me. Money runs out, but I will be to remember what you did for me well into my old age” - Janelle Weikum.
"I am not a crier but looking at my house and knowing what those men did  for me, tugs at my heart and brings tears to my eyes." - A homeowner helped by Rebuilding Together Central Ohio.
“It’s a God send, I am so grateful for the help. I can just cry, knowing that there are people who want to help make my home better.” - Ms. Purnell.

Need some inspiration? Here’s a look at some of our favorite quotes from the homeowners we’ve helped. 

“I thank Rebuilding Together every day of my life. I love all those volunteers. I appreciate them and my heart goes out to them wherever they may be.” - Andrea Spencer.

I love how family oriented Rebuilding Together is…I almost lost my home. I feel like I need to give back.” - Felicia Byrd. 

My experience with all of you is much better than winning the lottery! Money is great, but it pales in comparison to the kindness shown to me. Money runs out, but I will be to remember what you did for me well into my old age” - Janelle Weikum.

"I am not a crier but looking at my house and knowing what those men did  for me, tugs at my heart and brings tears to my eyes." - A homeowner helped by Rebuilding Together Central Ohio.

It’s a God send, I am so grateful for the help. I can just cry, knowing that there are people who want to help make my home better.” - Ms. Purnell.

Michael Verla wins Rebuilding Together’s AmeriCorps Member of the Year Award
Michael Verla, 23, recently won Rebuilding Together’s AmeriCorps Member of the Year Award.
Originally from a small town in Massachusetts, Michael studied community development at the University of Vermont. Michael’s passion for helping others led him to look for service opportunities through the AmeriCorps Program. “I found Rebuilding Together Philadelphia through an AmeriCorps position. It seemed like it would be a good fit,” Michael said. “I could serve in communities and with a nonprofit that’s having an impact and doing its own brand of community development.”
Michael’s service included about a dozen major projects while being an AmeriCorps member at Rebuilding Together Philadelphia. His first project was a Maxwell House Drops of Good community center renovation. Another one of his service projects was Building a Healthy Neighborhood, one of Rebuilding Together’s largest annual events. 
Michael was in charge of coordinating the energy efficient repairs and modifications. He often found himself doing volunteer management and community outreach. “It was formative in a lot of ways,” Michael said looking back at his experience. He managed a wide variety of volunteers from local neighborhoods, corporations and universities. Michael’s favorite part of his service was helping the homeowners though. “I’d engage with homeowners and go to community meetings. I loved being the liason between the residents and organization.” He’d be the homeowners’ point person when it came to questions concerning their new energy efficient upgrades or home repair.
His favorite project was a block build that took place over two weekends. A team of Rebuilding Together Philadelphia volunteers renovated an entire block in West Philadelphia. Michael quickly developed a rapport with the homeowners. He began meeting with them several months before the renovations took place. “I had a really strong connection with the homeowners. There was a lot of good energy.”
A woman from that West Philadelphia project named Alice especially stood out to Michael. He considered her a Block Captain of sorts. Alice was more than happy to get the word out about the block build, work alongside the volunteers, and even recruit her son to volunteer for the project as well.
As an AmeriCorps member, Michael’s favorite experiences came from being surrounded by his fellow AmeriCorps members. Rebuilding Together AmeriCorps members are placed all over the country, but they come together for their orientation, Rebuilding Together’s National Conference, and the AmeriCorps’ Martin Luther King Jr. service week. “It got everybody together. We picked each other’s brains, which we couldn’t do in our day to day tasks. We shared stories. It was a powerful experience.”
And for how he feels about being the Rebuilding Together’s AmeriCorps member of the year? “It was exciting, and I definitely feel honored. It’s humbling because there are so many others doing such great work.”
To find out more about Rebuilding Together’s AmeriCorps program, visit this link: rebuildingtogether.org/capacitycorps 

Michael Verla wins Rebuilding Together’s AmeriCorps Member of the Year Award

Michael Verla, 23, recently won Rebuilding Together’s AmeriCorps Member of the Year Award.

Originally from a small town in Massachusetts, Michael studied community development at the University of Vermont. Michael’s passion for helping others led him to look for service opportunities through the AmeriCorps Program. “I found Rebuilding Together Philadelphia through an AmeriCorps position. It seemed like it would be a good fit,” Michael said. “I could serve in communities and with a nonprofit that’s having an impact and doing its own brand of community development.”

Michael’s service included about a dozen major projects while being an AmeriCorps member at Rebuilding Together Philadelphia. His first project was a Maxwell House Drops of Good community center renovation. Another one of his service projects was Building a Healthy Neighborhood, one of Rebuilding Together’s largest annual events. 

Michael was in charge of coordinating the energy efficient repairs and modifications. He often found himself doing volunteer management and community outreach. “It was formative in a lot of ways,” Michael said looking back at his experience. He managed a wide variety of volunteers from local neighborhoods, corporations and universities. Michael’s favorite part of his service was helping the homeowners though. “I’d engage with homeowners and go to community meetings. I loved being the liason between the residents and organization.” He’d be the homeowners’ point person when it came to questions concerning their new energy efficient upgrades or home repair.

His favorite project was a block build that took place over two weekends. A team of Rebuilding Together Philadelphia volunteers renovated an entire block in West Philadelphia. Michael quickly developed a rapport with the homeowners. He began meeting with them several months before the renovations took place. “I had a really strong connection with the homeowners. There was a lot of good energy.”

A woman from that West Philadelphia project named Alice especially stood out to Michael. He considered her a Block Captain of sorts. Alice was more than happy to get the word out about the block build, work alongside the volunteers, and even recruit her son to volunteer for the project as well.

As an AmeriCorps member, Michael’s favorite experiences came from being surrounded by his fellow AmeriCorps members. Rebuilding Together AmeriCorps members are placed all over the country, but they come together for their orientation, Rebuilding Together’s National Conference, and the AmeriCorps’ Martin Luther King Jr. service week. “It got everybody together. We picked each other’s brains, which we couldn’t do in our day to day tasks. We shared stories. It was a powerful experience.”

And for how he feels about being the Rebuilding Together’s AmeriCorps member of the year? “It was exciting, and I definitely feel honored. It’s humbling because there are so many others doing such great work.”

To find out more about Rebuilding Together’s AmeriCorps program, visit this link: rebuildingtogether.org/capacitycorps 

Rebuilding Together Anne Arundel County Helps Homeowner Maintain Independence
Rebuilding Together Anne Arundel County helped a 77-year-old woman maintain her independence with their recent renovations.
The mother of five had both her legs amputated at the knee due to diabetes. The woman suffered a fall on her old and crumbling ramp, breaking both of her femurs. She couldn’t use her artificial legs due to her injuries.
Surviving on Social Security, the Anne Arundel County resident couldn’t afford to make the necessary accessibility modifications she desperately needed. Due to her limited mobility, she could no longer access her bathroom safely. Without adequate financial resources for repairs, she was forced to use a plastic cup and her kitchen sink to bathe. The ceiling in her family room was caving in and her soffits were developing large holes.
Over 45 volunteers worked two days to help restore this recipient’s home. Volunteers built a new ramp, installed a new ceiling in the family room, cleaned out her attic, landscaped the front yard, fixed the faucets, installed insulation, and lowered her mailbox. Barbara Cupp, the Executive Director of Rebuilding Together Anne Arundel County, said she felt compelled to help her. “She found herself in a house crumbling around her,” Barbara said. “She was confined to one room in her house due to her situation. I don’t know how much longer she could have stayed in the house.”
Barbara said, “She’s determined, strong, and fiercely independent. She doesn’t have it in her to depend on anyone.” The homeowner was very grateful to all those volunteers who helped make it possible for her to age in place. “On her final look at the finished project, she burst into tears. The idea of her whole to-do list of 20 years being done was overwhelming.”
The volunteers were made up of two church groups and a group from the Naval Academy. One volunteer didn’t live too far from the project, so he and his wife would often go back to do finishing touches and check in on the homeowner.
Barbara said the homeowner was shy at first around the large group of volunteers, but became very social and got along wonderfully with all of them. After seeing what the Rebuilding Together volunteers did for her, the homeowner said to Barbara, “I didn’t know there were people who would help me.”

Rebuilding Together Anne Arundel County Helps Homeowner Maintain Independence

Rebuilding Together Anne Arundel County helped a 77-year-old woman maintain her independence with their recent renovations.

The mother of five had both her legs amputated at the knee due to diabetes. The woman suffered a fall on her old and crumbling ramp, breaking both of her femurs. She couldn’t use her artificial legs due to her injuries.

Surviving on Social Security, the Anne Arundel County resident couldn’t afford to make the necessary accessibility modifications she desperately needed. Due to her limited mobility, she could no longer access her bathroom safely. Without adequate financial resources for repairs, she was forced to use a plastic cup and her kitchen sink to bathe. The ceiling in her family room was caving in and her soffits were developing large holes.

Over 45 volunteers worked two days to help restore this recipient’s home. Volunteers built a new ramp, installed a new ceiling in the family room, cleaned out her attic, landscaped the front yard, fixed the faucets, installed insulation, and lowered her mailbox. Barbara Cupp, the Executive Director of Rebuilding Together Anne Arundel County, said she felt compelled to help her. “She found herself in a house crumbling around her,” Barbara said. “She was confined to one room in her house due to her situation. I don’t know how much longer she could have stayed in the house.”

Barbara said, “She’s determined, strong, and fiercely independent. She doesn’t have it in her to depend on anyone.” The homeowner was very grateful to all those volunteers who helped make it possible for her to age in place. “On her final look at the finished project, she burst into tears. The idea of her whole to-do list of 20 years being done was overwhelming.”

The volunteers were made up of two church groups and a group from the Naval Academy. One volunteer didn’t live too far from the project, so he and his wife would often go back to do finishing touches and check in on the homeowner.

Barbara said the homeowner was shy at first around the large group of volunteers, but became very social and got along wonderfully with all of them. After seeing what the Rebuilding Together volunteers did for her, the homeowner said to Barbara, “I didn’t know there were people who would help me.”

Rebuilding Together Helping Generations of Families
Felicia Byrd inherited her family home after her mother passed away in 2010. Felicia believed she would have to sell it because she couldn’t afford the extensive repairs that needed to be done. A troubling thought especially because the home was just 7 years away from being fully paid off.
The house wasn’t the only thing Felicia took charge of when her mother died. She became the guardian of her two nieces and nephew her mother was caring for. Felicia, the mother of three teenagers already, was happy to take in her nieces and nephew.
Felicia, an accountant for a temp agency at the time, was recommended to seek out the assistance of Rebuilding Together. She quickly applied, but didn’t fully trust that Rebuilding Together Fredericksburg could do all she needed for no charge.  
Twenty volunteers worked for three weekends to repair Felicia’s home. They fixed her plumbing, painted her walls, installed handrails, fixed electrical wiring, put up new cabinets, and put down a new bathroom floor. There was a massive leak in the water pipes outside of the home. This made getting running water a hassle for Felicia’s mother. Felicia knew there was a lot of work to be done, but she couldn’t imagine how her mother lived there for so long in the home’s condition.
She was taken aback by how much the volunteers cared about her. She saw 20 strangers fixing up her home, enjoying meals with her, and praying with her. The volunteers even worked side by side with Felicia’s children to repair their home. Felicia couldn’t believe their kindness or the kindness of Lowe’s, the sponsor of her renovations. Lowe’s donated the materials and let Felicia pick out the colors and floor of her rebuilt home.
Felicia now works at Rebuilding Together’s National Office in the finance department. “I’ve seen the whole picture of Rebuilding Together. I love how family oriented Rebuilding Together is.” said Felicia.
She is now planning on joining some affiliates to renovate homes and community centers. “I almost lost my home. I feel like I need to give back.”
While working at Rebuilding Together, Felicia found out this safe and healthy housing organization has another connection to her family. Her great-grandmother, Rose Anderson, sought the help of Christmas in April in 1992. Christmas in April was the original incarnation of Rebuilding Together. Those Fredericksburg volunteers gave the 81-year-old woman a new roof.
Felicia never knew that Rebuilding Together was once Christmas in April. She can still remember seeing all the work being done to her great-grandmother’s house and reading a local newspaper article about it. Felicia and her father still can’t believe the coincidence. “It’s amazing how they help people out.”

Rebuilding Together Helping Generations of Families

Felicia Byrd inherited her family home after her mother passed away in 2010. Felicia believed she would have to sell it because she couldn’t afford the extensive repairs that needed to be done. A troubling thought especially because the home was just 7 years away from being fully paid off.

The house wasn’t the only thing Felicia took charge of when her mother died. She became the guardian of her two nieces and nephew her mother was caring for. Felicia, the mother of three teenagers already, was happy to take in her nieces and nephew.

Felicia, an accountant for a temp agency at the time, was recommended to seek out the assistance of Rebuilding Together. She quickly applied, but didn’t fully trust that Rebuilding Together Fredericksburg could do all she needed for no charge.  

Twenty volunteers worked for three weekends to repair Felicia’s home. They fixed her plumbing, painted her walls, installed handrails, fixed electrical wiring, put up new cabinets, and put down a new bathroom floor. There was a massive leak in the water pipes outside of the home. This made getting running water a hassle for Felicia’s mother. Felicia knew there was a lot of work to be done, but she couldn’t imagine how her mother lived there for so long in the home’s condition.

She was taken aback by how much the volunteers cared about her. She saw 20 strangers fixing up her home, enjoying meals with her, and praying with her. The volunteers even worked side by side with Felicia’s children to repair their home. Felicia couldn’t believe their kindness or the kindness of Lowe’s, the sponsor of her renovations. Lowe’s donated the materials and let Felicia pick out the colors and floor of her rebuilt home.

Felicia now works at Rebuilding Together’s National Office in the finance department. “I’ve seen the whole picture of Rebuilding Together. I love how family oriented Rebuilding Together is.” said Felicia.

She is now planning on joining some affiliates to renovate homes and community centers. “I almost lost my home. I feel like I need to give back.”

While working at Rebuilding Together, Felicia found out this safe and healthy housing organization has another connection to her family. Her great-grandmother, Rose Anderson, sought the help of Christmas in April in 1992. Christmas in April was the original incarnation of Rebuilding Together. Those Fredericksburg volunteers gave the 81-year-old woman a new roof.

Felicia never knew that Rebuilding Together was once Christmas in April. She can still remember seeing all the work being done to her great-grandmother’s house and reading a local newspaper article about it. Felicia and her father still can’t believe the coincidence. “It’s amazing how they help people out.”

This is the first part of a three part story about a homeowner named Janelle Weikum. This post focuses on Kimberly Hansen and Rebuilding Together Greater Des Moines, the Executive Director and affiliate that helped Janelle stay in her home. The two other parts will focus on Janelle herself and a volunteer who helped rebuild her home. 
Janelle Weikum needed the assistance of Rebuilding Together Greater Des Moines due to her home needing critical accessibility repairs and upgrades. Janelle suffers from a disease that causes lumps to form on her legs. These lumps make it very difficult for Janelle to walk.
Forty volunteers donated their time and skill to help Janelle. Rebuilding Together Greater Des Moines installed new stairs going to the basement because the old ones were deteriorating quickly. Volunteers from Greater Des Moines and Meredith Corporation moved the washer and dryer from the basement to a spare bedroom on the main level. This allows Janelle to do her laundry without straining her legs or risk using the stairs. Meredith volunteers also landscaped, transforming Janelle’s once barren lawn into a field of green. Volunteers also painted the home’s interior and exterior. Meredith donated a new living room set. Janelle already had a new exhaust fan and a new front door. However, she couldn’t do it herself or afford to have someone do it for her. Rebuilding Together and Meredith volunteers were able to install both for Janelle. Her son was also there that day, helping turn his mother’s house into a safe and healthy home. These hard working volunteers stayed till 9 that night making sure everything was finished.  
Kimberly Hansen, the Executive Director of Rebuilding Together Greater Des Moines, said, “It felt meant to be. The new living room set actually matched Janelle’s old coffee table perfectly.”
Kimberly remembered seeing Janelle looking a bit overwhelmed with all the support when everything got started. “She was in tears and so thankful that day. In the beginning, she was being very bashful. Her home was swarmed with 40 volunteers and her stuff was put outside. As the day went on, she felt more comfortable. Neighbors were supportive and came over to see what was happening. She spoke at the lunch to thank the Meredith employees with tears in her eyes.”
Janelle was speechless when she was going through her finished home, according to Kimberly. And seeing her settle into her new living room is what Kimberly remembers the most. “She was at home in the new living room.” Kimberly saw that sense of being overwhelmed wash away from Janelle as she sat on the new couch and thanked the volunteers from the bottom of her heart.

This is the first part of a three part story about a homeowner named Janelle Weikum. This post focuses on Kimberly Hansen and Rebuilding Together Greater Des Moines, the Executive Director and affiliate that helped Janelle stay in her home. The two other parts will focus on Janelle herself and a volunteer who helped rebuild her home.

Janelle Weikum needed the assistance of Rebuilding Together Greater Des Moines due to her home needing critical accessibility repairs and upgrades. Janelle suffers from a disease that causes lumps to form on her legs. These lumps make it very difficult for Janelle to walk.

Forty volunteers donated their time and skill to help Janelle. Rebuilding Together Greater Des Moines installed new stairs going to the basement because the old ones were deteriorating quickly. Volunteers from Greater Des Moines and Meredith Corporation moved the washer and dryer from the basement to a spare bedroom on the main level. This allows Janelle to do her laundry without straining her legs or risk using the stairs. Meredith volunteers also landscaped, transforming Janelle’s once barren lawn into a field of green. Volunteers also painted the home’s interior and exterior. Meredith donated a new living room set. Janelle already had a new exhaust fan and a new front door. However, she couldn’t do it herself or afford to have someone do it for her. Rebuilding Together and Meredith volunteers were able to install both for Janelle. Her son was also there that day, helping turn his mother’s house into a safe and healthy home. These hard working volunteers stayed till 9 that night making sure everything was finished.  

Kimberly Hansen, the Executive Director of Rebuilding Together Greater Des Moines, said, “It felt meant to be. The new living room set actually matched Janelle’s old coffee table perfectly.”

Kimberly remembered seeing Janelle looking a bit overwhelmed with all the support when everything got started. “She was in tears and so thankful that day. In the beginning, she was being very bashful. Her home was swarmed with 40 volunteers and her stuff was put outside. As the day went on, she felt more comfortable. Neighbors were supportive and came over to see what was happening. She spoke at the lunch to thank the Meredith employees with tears in her eyes.”

Janelle was speechless when she was going through her finished home, according to Kimberly. And seeing her settle into her new living room is what Kimberly remembers the most. “She was at home in the new living room.” Kimberly saw that sense of being overwhelmed wash away from Janelle as she sat on the new couch and thanked the volunteers from the bottom of her heart.