Bob Austin, a longtime Rebuilding Together-AFF volunteer was honored with the Bernie L. Bates Foundation Privilege Award for 2022. This is the highest form of recognition bestowed by the Board of Directors of the Foundation and was presented to Bob for his outstanding service to the Fairfax County community. This year’s award recognizes a person who most closely follows the tenets and principals practiced by the late Col. (Ret.) Marion “Barney” Barnwell. Barney served on the RT-AFF board and served as a House Captain for more than 30 National Rebuilding Day projects. Barney consistently demonstrated his passion to “pay it forward” through his community involvement and volunteerism.
Bob’s lifelong service to others epitomizes the example that Barney set for us all in helping others at every opportunity.
Bob started volunteering with us 18 years ago as a member of his church team for National Rebuilding Day. After retiring he joined our pool of skilled individual volunteers and started volunteering with us year-round.
Bob’s skills and savvy home remodeling skills and his desire to do more prompted him to become a Rebuilding Together Express team leader to help low-income seniors continue to live safely in their homes. As a member of the Rebuilding Together AFF Program Committee, Bob helped develop Worksite Safety COVID-19 Protocols to keep our clients and volunteers safe – and allow our small teams to continue working through the pandemic to help those at great risk of health and safety hazards in their homes. Over the past five years Bob has led or worked on more than 75 projects and was one of a handful of volunteers who worked tirelessly through the pandemic. This past year Bob and our other RT Express Team Leaders were recognized by Volunteer Fairfax as Social Advocacy Group of the Year.
In keeping with the inspiring example that Barney set, Bob exemplifies the meaning of volunteerism through the amazing work he does with Rebuilding Together and for so many other community groups including co-chairing a co-op that provides food to over 200 families each month and picking up 2,000 pounds of food each week. He is actively involved in the Fairfax County Faith Community in Action volunteer program, a trustee and building manager for a nonprofit on the Rt. 1 Corridor and volunteers with several other groups. We are very fortunate that Bob lives in our community and takes the time and effort to make a tangible difference for those in need.
We offer our most sincere congratulations and thanks to Bob.
Thanks to a grant from the Wells Fargo Builds program, RT-AFF completed repairs for three families in Alexandria in the Audubon Community of manufactured homes. The Wells Fargo Builds program provides philanthropic financial support for the construction, renovation and repair of homes for low-to-moderate income households. Nationally, Wells Fargo donated $1.25 million to Rebuilding Together. Since 2010, Wells Fargo has donated more than $16 million to Rebuilding Together and its affiliate network and last year RT affiliates collaborated with Wells Fargo to repair 100 homes.
Manufactured homes, sometimes called mobile homes, are an important source of affordable housing in our expensive housing market. Our team met the Audubon Community property manager when our volunteers built a wheelchair ramp for another homeowner. The property manager was delighted to learn about Rebuilding Together and introduced us to the homeowners in dire need of repairs, and she made our job easier by arranging for disposal of trash and old appliances.
All three of the homes we worked on were over 35 years old and in need of deep repairs, including roof repairs. Our first priority was making the homes watertight. Wells Fargo’s grant allowed us to hire a roofing contractor to repair and seal the roofs on all three homes.
Mr. And Mrs. C’s home was built in 1976 and the kitchen floor was badly deteriorated and about to collapse. Our volunteer team removed multiple layers of flooring, including ceramic tile, to get to the root of the problem. They secured failing joists, replaced missing insulation and the subfloor, and then installed underlayment and finally a durable vinyl plank floor. They replaced the stove, a kitchen cabinet, and installed a range hood with an exhaust fan vented outside to keep the air clean in their small home. The couple now feels safe in their home and embraced by the kindness of our volunteers.
Bill Marshall, the volunteer team leader for the project said, “Mr. C just loved his new kitchen floor and range hood, and all the repairs we made. His happy eyes from beneath his mask and his multiple “thank yous,” after just having returned from a chemo session, reminded me of how blessed I am, and how much enjoyment I get from giving back to neighbors in need like Mr. and Mrs. C.”
The second homeowner we helped was Ms. T. who has chronic health problems and had lost her job at a nearby Senior Center due to the pandemic. Ms. T loves to cook but her kitchen had no cabinets, countertops, sink or working stove. The grant from Wells Fargo and the work done by our volunteers was truly a gift to Ms. T. Our team of volunteers and staff installed cabinets, countertops and a sink with a garbage disposal. They installed a new range and a stove-top vent to keep the air clean from cooking grease and odors. The team also installed a grab bar in the bathroom, repaired the wooden stairs, and replaced the clothes dryer and vented it safely outside. Ms. T now has a fully functioning kitchen and can safely age in place in her modest home. Here’s part of Ms. T’s survey:
Erick and Mirna are a young couple expecting their first child. Erick had been tirelessly working to rehab their mobile home. It was constructed in 1982 and the couple pulled together all their resources and had hands-on help from family and friends, but money was tight, and they could not afford to finish repairs. With their first child arriving soon, they desperately needed a functioning kitchen. Erick had already purchased kitchen cabinets and he worked alongside our volunteers to tackle some of the interior repairs. Our team finished installing the cabinets and installed a garbage disposal, stove, microwave, and kitchen exhaust fan. The team also installed drywall in another room of the home. We are awaiting delivery of a replacement window that will help make it easier for Erik and Mirna to heat and cool their small home.
Erick wrote to us, “I have a kitchen again and I can cook for my family! Thank you for your team. They are all good people. And thank you for your time, and for your dedication for helping others.”
Rebuilding Together Arlington/Fairfax/Falls Church (RT-AFF) is excited to kick off a new collaboration with Amazon Web Services (AWS). AWS’s head of Global Social Impact Maggie Carter was familiar with Rebuilding Together having previously led Day of Service projects in Dallas, TX and Los Angeles, CA when she was driving community relations and social responsibility at the National Basketball Association. The AWS Global Social Impact team works alongside governments, nonprofits, international aid organizations, academia, and private entities to tackle some of the world’s most pressing challenges by applying AWS’s resources including cloud computing technology and expertise as well as volunteer and financial support.
The AWS team of 12 skilled, hardworking volunteers came together on a sunny fall day in November 2021 to assist Mrs. B, an 87-year-old homeowner in Springfield. “We are thrilled that Maggie and the team from Amazon Web Services joined us for a Fall Rebuilding Day,” said Patti Klein, RT-AFF Executive Director. “They put together a great team with many rebuilding skills, they were passionate about helping and they had fun too.”
“Supporting the individuals and communities is a priority for our team. It is gratifying to be able to roll up our sleeves with Rebuilding Together to support members of the local community,” said Maggie Carter, Global Social Impact Lead, AWS. “We’re proud to support Rebuilding Together and it’s mission to uplift the community by revitalizing neighborhood homes.”
Mr. and Mrs. B were the original owners of their home. They took great pride in their home, and Mr. B, a veteran of the Korean War, was very handy and maintained the home himself. After Mr. B died, Mrs. B did her best to keep up, but the list of needed repairs and safety modifications kept growing. Her front stoop had sunk so she lugged two cinder blocks over to serve as steps. Each bathroom had a different problem and not one was fully functional, water was pooling around the foundation during rainstorms, pests were getting into the home and her yard was overgrown.
The team worked hard and with great enthusiasm all day. Inside the home volunteers installed smoke detectors, a fire extinguisher and long-lasting LED lights so all the rooms, hallways and stairways are brighter and safer. The team installed a new, sturdy railing on Mrs. B’s stairs and grab bars in her bathrooms to reduce her risk of falling. They also made a few plumbing repairs and caulked the bathrooms and then a plumber was hired to take care of more complex repairs. Mrs. B’s bathrooms are now fully functional and safe.
Outside, volunteers built a new front step so Mrs. B can safely enter and leave her home. A tripping hazard created by the uneven front walkway was repaired, and they cleaned the gutters so water is carried away from the foundation and doesn’t pool in the yard. The team cleaned up the yard, trimmed trees that were encroaching on the house, and removed ivy that was growing on the house. Holes in the siding that were allowing pests to get inside were filled, and the volunteers pressure washed the siding and even washed Mrs. B’s car. Mrs. B was incredibly grateful for the help and at the end of the day told the volunteers “I love each of you and appreciate your work, efforts, and your energy. I know when you go to the next place that you will affect that homeowner the same way.”
The AWS team corrected 11 health and safety priorities and now Mrs. B’s home meets all 25 Rebuilding Together Health and Safety Priorities, making her home safe, healthy and livable.
All of us at Rebuilding Together Arlington/ Fairfax/ Falls Church want to express our deepest appreciation for our supporters and volunteers who have made our work possible, even during such challenging times. In 2021, our volunteers gave 3,200 hours to help us complete 89 projects (86 houses and 3 nonprofits). That amounts to $209,000 in donated labor!
80% of the households we help qualify as Very Low or Extremely Low income and could never afford these vital repairs and modifications on their own. We truly could not do this without your support. Please take a few minutes to watch our video and read our Year in Review to see how our services have touched many lives this past year and how the efforts of our volunteers, donors and partners add up to a significant community impact. We look forward to another successful year!
by Andrew Dumont, Chair
Did you know you can support no-cost home repairs for low-income homeowners, lower your taxes, and meet your Individual Retirement Account’s (IRA) required minimum distribution? That’s what I call a win-win-win, and it is possible if you direct your IRA’s trustee to make a qualified charitable distribution to Rebuilding Together Arlington/Fairfax/Falls Church (RT-AFF).
As you may know, if you are the owner of a traditional IRA, you must generally start receiving distributions from your IRA by April 1 of the year following the year in which you reach age 72. These distributions must equal at least a minimum amount, commonly referred to as the required minimum distribution.
What you may not know is that qualified charitable distributions (QCDs) count towards your required minimum distribution. A QCD is generally a nontaxable distribution made directly by the trustee of your IRA (other than a SEP or SIMPLE IRA) to an organization eligible to receive tax-deductible contributions (like RT-AFF!). You must be at least age 70 1/2 when the distribution was made.
The maximum annual exclusion for QCD’s is $100,000. Any QCD in excess of the $100,000 exclusion limit is included in income like any other distribution. If you file a joint return, your spouse can also have a QCD and exclude up to $100,000 from his or her income. The amount of the QCD is limited to the amount of the distribution that would otherwise be included in income. If your IRA includes nondeductible contributions, the distribution is first considered to be paid out of otherwise taxable income. It is important to note that you can’t also claim a charitable contribution deduction for any QCD that you have excluded from your income. Read more
Our first Fall Rebuilding Day was a huge success thanks to the support of seven of our longtime partners and a team of our year-round volunteers. The repairs and modifications they made will have a lasting impact for the homeowners and nonprofit residential facilities that we served.
We are incredibly proud of our team leaders and volunteers who joined us after missing two National Rebuilding Days due to the pandemic. “I was fortunate to visit many of the nine projects on Saturday to see our teams in action,” said Patti Klein, Executive Director. “The energy and smiles from the volunteers and homeowners were contagious! Everyone was excited to be back out in the community doing what they love – making a tangible difference in the hearts and homes of our neighbors.”
More than 100 community members volunteered their time to tackle a variety of repairs and modifications to correct health and safety hazards that included: installing grab bars and railings; making plumbing and electrical repairs; replacing appliances that were no longer functioning; installing new toilets, vanities, faucets and exhaust fans in bathrooms; patching and painting damaged walls, doors and ceilings; diverting water away from homes; removing and repairing broken fences; tacking overgrown yards; and so much more.
Please join me in thanking our caring and dedicated volunteers for an incredible day of work! And a special thank you to the women and men who served as team leaders who spent countless hours planning repairs, coaching their teams and sweating the details to make their projects a success.
2021 Fall Rebuilding Day Partners:
ACCA – Annandale Christian Community for Action
Bush Hill Presbyterian Church
Dulin United Methodist Church
Fairfax United Methodist Church
The Falls Church Episcopal
St. Mary’s Episcopal Church
St. Peter’s Episcopal Church
RT-AFF Year-Round Volunteers
RLAH Real Estate hosted their very first Rebuild on September 15 in Arlington. It was a big success and the volunteers had a great day working together to help a neighbor in need.
Here are some highlights from our Fall Rebuilding Days.
Rebuilding Together Arlington/Fairfax/Falls Church has developed an effective system for identifying and correcting fall hazards in low-income seniors’ homes. Our Rebuilding Together Express program won the Commonwealth Council on Aging’s Best Practices award in 2018. In completing repairs to more than 218 homes we’ve demonstrated that relatively simple and low-cost repairs, modifications, and equipment can correct most fall hazards. Our small teams of RT Express volunteers correct 95% of fall hazards through half-day projects spending less than $500 for materials. Click the image below to watch the presentation that Don Ryan and Lucy Stein made at the Virginia Governor’s Conference on Aging.
Presenters: Don Ryan, Rebuilding Together Arlington/Fairfax/Falls Church
Lucy Stein, MSOTR/L, CAPS MedStar Health
Replacing a roof is expensive and not part of our regular scope of work, so when RT-AFF received Mrs. T’s application we weren’t sure we could help her. Thanks to a grant from The Wells Fargo Foundation, a national partner of Rebuilding Together, we were able to make this critical home repair that allows her to live safely in her home of 24 years.
“I will always be very grateful for everything you did for me. I want to express my gratitude to Wells Fargo, Mr. Don, Mr. Jon and all of the angel volunteers who fixed my house and made it safe,” exclaimed Mrs. T.
Mrs. T learned about RT-AFF when she opened her Fairfax County Real Estate Tax Waiver mailing and found a flyer describing our program. It was very difficult for her to ask for help because she took pride in her independence, but her roof was leaking in many places and her kitchen ceiling had collapsed.
Mrs. T and her husband owned a successful restaurant in their home country. After immigrating to the U.S. to find safety and new opportunities for their teenaged children, they worked for a catering company, received security clearance, and served at many events for government agencies and at the White House. Their son served in the U.S. Air Force and completed four tours of duty in Iraq. He also ran for office in county government. When Mr. T became ill and had to stop working the children shifted their lives to be nearby to help their parents.
Living on one income was difficult and when the roof started leaking Mrs. T placed buckets around the house to catch the water. After Mr. T passed away the close-knit family continued to help as best they could. But the buckets catching rain were multiplying and during one storm the kitchen ceiling became so waterlogged it came tumbling down. Then the pandemic hit and Mrs. T lost her catering job. Every storm caused new worries that the roof wouldn’t hold, especially when the wind howled. She was desperate for help.
The Wells Fargo Foundation grant allowed Rebuilding Together – AFF to hire a contractor to replace Mrs. T’s roof. After the roof was replaced and the house was water-tight, RT-AFF volunteers repaired the kitchen ceiling, installed a donated dishwasher, added grab bars, railings and new lighting and made many other repairs that resolved 13 Health and Safety Priorities. Now that Mrs. T’s home meets all 25 Rebuilding Together Health and Safety Priorities she feels safe and sound and looks forward to living there for many more years.
Homes that present multiple critical health and safety hazards challenge Rebuilding Together-AFF to be creative in gathering the right volunteers and resources to make the homes safe.
The L family’s home in Springfield needed critical repairs. They had a major moisture problem that required demolishing the sidewalk next to their home and pouring 150 square feet of concrete to correct the slope so that rain flowed away from the house. A crew of professionals from Miller and Long, one of our valued corporate partners, tackled this task and completed the work in just one day.
With the major moisture problem solved, our partners from Faith Church Kingstowne mobilized a team of 50 volunteers to make a host of repairs inside and out on their rebuilding day. They painted, repaired drywall, replaced kitchen cabinets, made safety modifications to reduce the homeowner’s risk of falls, and corrected moisture and ventilation problems. The homeowners also had three complex plumbing repairs (including one emergency) that required special skills so Rebuilding Together – AFF made a quick call to volunteer Steve Schoepke, who came to the rescue the same day.
Family members were delighted to receive help and gratefully worked along side the volunteers. Through this layered approach to repairs and modifications we were able to address 17 critical health and safety issues for the family and their home now meets all 25 of RT-AFF’s Health and Safety Priorities. Check out our Flickr albums for more project pictures.
Pictured below are our partners from Faith Church Kingstowne.
Rebuilding Together Arlington/Fairfax/Falls Church (Rebuilding Together-AFF) is a 501 (c)(3) nonprofit organization that serves low-income homeowners and nonprofits. Our volunteers repair and upgrade homes at no charge to the owner. We focus on health, safety and accessibility for every home.