Rebuilding Together Makeover Project on 10th Street, a set on Flickr.
While walking my dog on Friday morning, I saw a large group of people huddling in front of a house on 10th Street NE. It turned out that it was a group of volunteers and organizers from three organizations; Rebuilding Together DC, CBRE, and Pleasant View Landscapes. They were getting ready to tackle a long list of home improvement tasks on the home of a long time Brookland residents, Toni and Geri. When we stopped back later in the day, we saw that the home really got a nice overhaul. The mostly young volunteers we interacted with painted three bedrooms, replaced light fixtures, painted doors, repaired stair rails, re-caulked all the windows, installed handles in the shower and a raised toilet seat, repaired the door lock, and landscaped the front yard. Even the roof was replaced the day before.
Doris Collins, Associate Director of Rebuilding Together DC explained to us that this project is one of many that the organization takes on that helps DC low-income or veteran homeowners with home improvements. Ms. Collins said that this program often helps elderly people on fixed incomes stay in their homes by providing renovations that would normally be too overwhelming to take on themselves. She noted that improvements like caulking the windows have a ripple effect into other areas such as saving homeowners on heating and cooling. Rebuilding Together has 200 chapters across the country and anyone can apply on the “Rebuilt Together” website for a home makeover or assistance with repair needs for their home. We also spoke with Kathleen Thompson , Eastern Division Business Administrator and Director for CBRE. She explained that while CBRE is the largest commercial Real Estate firm in the world, her CBRE Cares team is a philanthropic endeavor by which CBRE employees contribute their time and resources to charitable causes. All the volunteers that day raised at least half of the funds towards the home make over, which really makes them personally invested in the project. Ms. Thompson noted that they “would be lost without Rebuilding Together” since the two organizations work so closely together.
We also met John, a retired engineer, who offers his time not only to perform more advanced repairs, but also to teach volunteers new skills. John and Nick were busy replacing the faulty front door lock. Nick, like so many of his fellow volunteers, picks up new skills every time he participates at a “Rebuilt Together” event. He can then apply these skills at future volunteer events, or at his own home improvement projects. Pleasant View Landscapes also played a big part by donating their whole team for the day. They were busy teaching the CBRE team how to do landscaping in addition to tasks like caulking windows.
After admiring the enthusiastic group of volunteers working in and at every corner of the house, we had the chance to meet Toni, the owner of the home. The now 77 year old Brookland resident has lived in her home for 54 years. Geri, who came across the “Rebuilt Together” website, submitted the application for Toni on August 1, 2013. She was told it could take up to six months for the “Rebuilt Team” to make it to Toni’s home. That’s why the ladies were happily surprised to learn, that the team would come out to do the improvement work on September 27. Toni could not hide her joy and appreciation for the transformation her house was undergoing in front of her eyes. Geri added “thank goodness for the internet!” In deed. We are very happy for her and congratulate her on her newly improved home.