Time to get a head start on Rebuilding Together

November 28, 2010 

The last Saturday of April is always a busy day for Rebuilding Together Thurston County.

That’s the day volunteers ranging from skilled contractors to folks who can wield a paint brush but not a hammer gather to conduct home repairs for low-income homeowners who need a helping hand.

In 2010, 85 volunteers drawn together by this nonprofit group worked on eight homes here in South Sound. They installed walk-in showers, wheelchair ramps, windows, sinks, doors and toilets. They caulked, painted and landscaped, all so seniors, disabled veterans and single-parent families down on their luck can have safe, warm homes.

While April 30 is still a full five months away, the Dec. 15 deadline is fast approaching for low-income homeowners to apply for home improvements, local Rebuilding Together board president Paul Muldoon said.

For some unexplained reason, applications and referrals are slower to arrive this year than in recent years, Muldoon said.

“We had 30 applications last year,” the Olympia financial adviser said. “But we’re in the low teens right now.”

Once the applications are in hand, Rebuilding Together staff members and volunteers will conduct home visits to prioritize the prospective projects by late January or early February.

The same scene is playing out all over the country in the run-up to National Rebuilding Day. Last year, 10,000 homes were repaired nationwide with the help of 200,000 volunteers. Since its founding 30 years ago, Rebuilding Together has delivered some $1 billion in market-value home repairs with the help of 2.5 million volunteers.

One of the many grateful homeowners is Olympia-area resident Polly Williams, a 53-year-old disabled Army veteran whose manufactured home was in rough shape until a Rebuilding Together crew descended on the premises April 24.

The volunteers replaced the siding on her home, which was subject to a manufacturer’s recall. They replaced 16 drafty and broken windows and repaired rotting window and door frames.

“It was almost like ‘Extreme Makeover,’” Williams recalled. “Without them, I wouldn’t still be in my home.”

That’s what Rebuilding Together is all about: The nonprofit believes that disabled and aging homeowners should be able to remain in their homes, living independently and with their dignity intact for as long as possible.

There are a variety of ways for residents to get involved in the work of Rebuilding Together Thurston County. They include:

 • Skilled, semi-skilled and unskilled volunteers are needed to provide home-repair services April 30. In some cases, the work involves landscaping, so you don’t need to be a carpenter, a plumber or an electrician to be useful.

 • Volunteers are needed for behind-the-scenes activities such as fundraising, office support, volunteer registration, grant writing and serving as a board member.

 • Monetary donations are tax-deductible, and for every dollar received, Rebuilding Together Thurston County provides $4 in services.

To apply for home repairs on April 30, 2011, or to get involved as a volunteer or donor, contact Rebuilding Together at 360-539-7830 or www.rebuildingtogethertc.org.

HABITAT CONTEST

It’s not too late to take in South Puget Sound Habitat for Humanity’s third annual Gingerbread Holiday Competition, which continues from noon-5 p.m. today in the ballroom of the Olympia Hotel at 116 Legion Way, Olympia.

Through public donations and purchases, the more than 20 edible entries on display raise a few thousand dollars each year to help Habitat for Humanity and its many volunteers build affordable homes and cottages for low-income families.

The South Sound chapter will celebrate completion of its 15-unit Fairview Cottage community in Olympia on Dec. 11. Next year, the group will break ground on Shepherd’s Grove, a five-home cottage community in Tumwater.

I had the pleasure of judging the gingerbread creations Saturday morning with Ruth McCausland, a 91-year-old South Sound author, and Olympia downtown merchant Tricia McHugh from McHughs’ Ken Schoenfeld Furniture.

We had little trouble agreeing that “A Merry Isthmus Christmas Carousel,” designed and glued together by Sarah Segall of Olympia, was the grand prize winner.

We particularly liked the gingerbread shingle roof on the carousel, the black licorice posts for the carousel ponies, and the rice-paper windows through which merry lights inside the carousel twinkled. It didn’t hurt that the carousel was motorized and in motion.

“All this fun and we won something, too,” Segall, a member of the Olympia Arts Commission, exclaimed upon learning that her creation won the judge’s top prize.

Stop by today and join in picking the people’s choice. There are many worthy contenders.

Habitat for Humanity helps folks achieve homeownership, and Rebuilding Together helps families stay in their homes. Both are worthy endeavors that deserve community support.

John Dodge: 360-754-5444 jdodge@theolympian.com www.theolympian.com/soundings

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