Rebuilding Together Muscatine County helps elderly woman age in place
Evelyn Powell, 89, has lived in her home for over 40 years. It’s where she and her husband spent their years together before he passed away. And it’s where she lives with her daughter today.
Evelyn reached out to Rebuilding Together Muscatine County to fix up some windows. When Frank Iliff, Executive Director of Rebuilding Together Muscatine County, went to check out Evelyn’s home, he found that she needed much more than just a few windows. He immediately saw a safety hazard in the narrow basement stairs for the 5 foot tall elderly woman. She would walk down the stairs with a heavy basket of clothes every time she needed to do the laundry. Their bathroom was also in bad shape. The floor was rug upon rug, the ceiling lacked insulation, and the walls were weak and thin.
Frank quickly assembled a team of 20 volunteers to renovate this two story house. They installed handrails for the basement staircase. Volunteers moved the washer and dryer to the main floor to make doing laundry easier for Evelyn. Volunteers replaced Evelyn’s bathroom floor, the tub, the walls, and installed insulation, a new sink, vanity, and toilet. And for those drafty windows, volunteers replaced all 19 windows in the Powell’s home. Volunteers also cleaned out Evelyn’s basement, landscaped her yard, and built steps on her hilly front lawn.
Heather, one of Frank’s House Ambassadors, was able to give Evelyn and her daughter another special gift during their renovations. Evelyn’s daughter was born deaf and the two could hardly communicate. Evelyn learned a few words in sign language, but their communication was mostly done through notes. Heather knew sign language and spent some of the day translating for them, giving this mother and daughter one of their first conversations. Frank remembered seeing the two women in tears as they talked about Evelyn’s late husband, their wedding day and honeymoon.