Rebuilding Together

Rebuilding Together Volunteer

Rebuilding Together is a national nonprofit working to preserve affordable home ownership and revitalize communities. Through a network of more than 200 affiliates, Rebuilding Together provides free rehabilitation and critical repairs to the homes of low-income citizens particularly the elderly and those with disabilities. The organization focuses their efforts on modifying homes to make them warm, safe and dry. Each year on National Rebuilding Day, all of the affiliates organize a mass rebuilding effort in their local area. Throughout the year the organization assists with home modifications, adding in the safety and health of local low-income citizens.

I became aware of this organization in 2006 when I volunteered with some friends for the AIA sponsored home in Chicago. We focused on cleaning and painting while the skilled volunteers tackled the large construction items rebuilding the rotten sub-floor, the kitchen and bath, plumbing and installing cabinets. It was amazing being one of 4,000 volunteers that day in the Chicago area repairing 67 homes, 5 community centers and 3 landscape projects.

After moving to Tacoma and becoming involved in the Emerging Leaders Group (ELG), I inquired whether there was a local Rebuilding Together affiliate during a discussion about possible philanthropic events we would like to coordinate. I found the local contact and created a relationship between the ELG and Rebuilding Together. ELG raised money to sponsor a home for national Rebuilding Together Day for two years: 2010 & 2011 and in addition I and a few other members in the ELG group assisted Rebuilding Together in 2009 with drawings to obtain a permit to build a ramp for a local resident.

Each sponsored home project has a leadership team of a House Captain and a Volunteer Coordinator. The two years that ELG has participated in the Rebuilding Together Day, I have been the Volunteer Coordinator. Our House Captain was a contractor who secured skilled volunteer labor, developed a project budget, determined the amount of labor & skills necessary to complete the project and directed the volunteers on rebuilding day. Together we met the homeowner with a representative from Rebuilding Together, reviewed the site and discussed the scope of the project. We met a number of times between receiving the project information and Rebuilding Day to coordinate volunteers, supplies and donations. As Volunteer coordinator, I secured unskilled volunteers, kept all of the volunteers informed about what to expect and make sure they are prepared for the days work, secured food/beverages, assisted the House Captain with volunteer direction, made sure that the volunteers were occupied & having a good time, ensured that there are photos documenting the day for the rebuilding marketing material and consulting with the home owner throughout the day ensuring they were comfortable with all the work being done. In 2010 our project was to fix the heating system, replace light fixtures, replace stove hood, install handrail and painting. In 2011 our project was to demo an unsafe ramp and rebuild a new one. They were long but rewarding days improving the lives of our neighbors by making their homes warmer and safer.  More information and pictures about each project can be found at the ELG blog entries that I wrote which were published in the AIA of Southwest Washington’s newsletter.

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