Mrs. B

There’s No Place Like Home

The homeowners we assist are grateful for the life-changing repairs and modifications made by our volunteers and for the donors and funders who provide the financial support to make our programs possible. We recently interviewed four homeowners and want to share their gratitude with you. Please watch the video, and scroll down to read Mrs. B’s lovely thank you note.

 

 

Mr & Mrs H

Highlights from National Rebuilding Day

Collage of 3 projects
National Rebuilding Day (NRD), our signature annual event, is made possible by our partnerships with local faith, corporate and community partners. Our partners financially support their projects and recruit House Captains who mobilize volunteers, plan repairs, and coordinate all the details to make the workday a success for their teams and the homeowners they are serving. Our partners and volunteers are motivated by the desire to give back and make the homes of our neighbors safe and healthy. After missing two National Rebuilding Days due to the pandemic our partners were eager to rejoin us for NRD 2022.

Annandale Christian Community for Action (ACCA), King of Kings Lutheran Church and Washington Building Congress (WBC) are longtime partners for NRD, and each team brings an amazing set of skills and enthusiasm to their projects. “The last few years have shown us the importance of having a safe place to call home,” said Patti Klein, RT-AFF Executive Director. “The critical repairs being made not only on National Rebuilding Day, but year-round are improving the physical and mental health of our neighbors, increasing their safety and sense of independence and are improving their economic security and sense of community connection.”

ACCA/RT-AFF’s 35+ Year Partnership
ACCA put together two teams this year as they have done for many National Rebuilding Days during our 35+ years as partners in safe and healthy housing. ACCA Team #2 included volunteers from Ravensworth Baptist, John Calvin Presbyterian and Providence Presbyterian Churches ranging in age from college students to retirees. The team helped Mr. and Mrs. D, a couple in their 80’s who have lived in their Alexandria home for 41 years. Mrs. D spends much of her time caring for Mr. D who is blind, hearing impaired and uses a walker. His safety is her biggest concern, and due to their age and disabilities they also had a lot of deferred maintenance projects to be tackled.

House Captain Brian Meli, assisted by co-captains Jim and Laurie Lewis and Woody Woodburn divided the work among eight task leaders. Critical repairs included improving drainage and downspouts to move water away from the home to keep it dry, repairing rotten flooring near the furnace, sealing leaking windows, gaps and cracks for better temperature control and to keep pests out of the home, securing handrails and adding grab bars to prevent falls and changing out regular light bulbs with LED bulbs to make the home brighter and help prevent falls. The team also did a major yard clean-up and improved the landscaping around the home. “I’m really proud of our eight task leaders and how they divided and conquered the work,” said House Captain Brian Meli. “Everyone came together to help paint the kitchen after their tasks were completed, which brought great joy to Mrs. D and gave the entire team a boost at the end of a long day.” Click to see  ACCA Team #2 Flickr Album and the ACCA Team #1 Album.

King of Kings Lutheran Church Assists Chantilly Family
Mrs. B’s knees don’t work as well as they used to, and she had fallen on the long sloping stairway leading to her car. Led by House Captain Oscar von Bredow and co-captain Bert Roepe, the King of Kings Lutheran Church team constructed an outside railing and added second railings to the inside stairways so Mrs. B can safely get up and down the stairs. The team installed grab bars in the bathroom, made plumbing and electrical repairs, repaired walls and doors, installed a new storm door, cleaned up the yard, installed smoke/co detectors and much more. Mrs. B and her family, who have lived in their home for 26 years, were so inspired by the amount of work the team was able to accomplish in a short time that they arranged for several family members to visit and help paint the newly repaired walls. Mrs. B wrote a lovely thank you email and said, “Your generosity went beyond a day’s work; it filled our hearts with hope and a real feeling of community.” Mrs. B can now use her stairs without the fear of falling, walk down the long walkway to her car holding onto a sturdy railing, and she and her entire family can take pride in their safe home. You can read Mrs. B’s letter and watch an interview with her and 3 other homeowners about their experiences with RT-AFF in our recent video.   Click here to see King of Kings Project Flickr album.

building a railing

Washington Building Congress Brings Pro Team to Help Alexandria Couple
Washington Building Congress (WBC) is a commercial trade association consisting of businesses from the real estate, design, and construction community – a perfect partner for National Rebuilding Day. House Captain Juliane Medd brought together a skilled team of industry professionals to help Mr. and Mrs. H with repairs and modifications at their Alexandria home. Mrs. H is a wheelchair user and was not able to leave their home without assistance, so the installation of a ramp was a top priority for the team. Team member firms provided professional electricians, plumbers, carpenters, landscapers, and other volunteers to complete repairs and modifications including the installation of the ramp, a stove top vent, double stair railings, LED light fixtures, GFCI outlets, a comfort height toilet and bathroom grab bars. The WBC team helped the family by clearing out and disposing of old furniture, building shelves, and organizing their pantry and storage. The project had a large outdoor component, so the Landscape Team was busy clearing out the overgrowth and brought in a bobcat to haul out sections of a tree that had fallen years before. “Mr. H has a lot of pride in his property, and was especially proud of his blueberry bushes,” said House Captain Juliane Medd. “We cleared a path so he could get to the blueberries easily. Mr. H was overwhelmed with gratitude for all the work but especially the small touches that showed we were listening, and we cared about him and his wife.”
Click here to see the WBC Project Flickr album.

“It takes a tremendous amount of compassion, organization and coordination to develop good rapport with the homeowner and pull off a one-day project” said Patti Klein, RT-AFF Executive Director. “We are truly grateful to our partners and all the volunteers who came out for National Rebuilding Day to make life-changing repairs and modifications for our neighbors in need.”

Washington Building Congress NRD Team

Don Ryan

Check Your Home for Health and Safety Hazards

Join Don Ryan, Rebuilding Together-AFF Director of Partnerships, to learn how you can check your home for health and safety hazards.

Click the image below to start the video presentation.

 

Volunteer Team

Wells Fargo Grant Funds Deep Repairs for Alexandria Homeowners

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.

installing range hoodMr. 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:

Ms. T's Thank you note

 

working in the small kitchenErick 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.”

Check out photos from the projects funded by Wells Fargo and many other #Rebuilding projects on our Flickr.

Three completed projects

Volunteers working

Amazon Web Services Fall Rebuilding Day

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.

See more photos on our Flickr.

Volunteers making safety repairs

Volunteers working

Helping Ms. P Breathe More Easily

Volunteers removing carpetingOur neighbor Ms. P has lived in her home for 23 years. She raised a big family and had a good job with the federal government. She yearned to be in a helping field, so she went to night school to become a medical assistant. She dreamed of helping babies and older people. Then, due to health complications she had to stop working, and stop going to school.

Ms. P is proud, self-sufficient, and doesn’t like to ask for help. Then she realized she was no longer able to go up and down her stairs safely. And when her doctor told her that the old carpeting in her living rooms was contributing to her breathing problems, she accepted that she couldn’t do everything on her own.

Our volunteers made essential repairs to help make her home safe again, all a zero cost to Ms. P.

OurVolunteers showing new floor volunteers installed grab bars in her bathroom, a second stair rail and LED light fixtures to brighten her kitchen, hallway and stairway. But the thing that brought the most joy to Ms. P was her new living room floor. Our team removed the old wall to wall carpeting and replaced it with vinyl plank flooring, removing a major source of allergens and asthma triggers and helping Ms. P breathe more easily.

Ms. P sent us a lovely handwritten note, saying in part, “Thank you for all you do for the people you bring joy to… Please know you are making a difference and you are appreciated.” (Ms. P’s letter is included at the bottom of this page).

Through our years of helping our community, we know just how much a safe and healthy home brings a new sense of hope to a senior aging in place, a family trying to make ends meet, or a disabled person who wants to remain in their home.

The last two years have challenged all of us in new and unexpected ways. We have felt that keenly at Rebuilding Together-AFF when talking to the neighbors we serve.

Your support can help make a year that has been difficult for everyone a little better. Please support our work with the most generous contribution you can. Your gift will bring warmth, safety and caring into the home of someone right here in our area.

With your support, we are able to help neighbors like Ms. P.

Click here to make a tax deductible contribution, or mail your gift to:

RT-AFF, 10723 Main St, Ste 135, Fairfax, VA 22030

 

 

IRA Charitable Rollovers are a Win-Win-Win

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

Grab bar installation

Low Cost Home Modifications to Prevent Falls

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

RT-AFF Recognizes Retiring Board Members

RT-AFF recently recognized four outstanding board members who retired from our board after a combined total of 70 years of service – Col. (Ret.) Marion “Barney” Barnwell, Alberto Garcia, Beverly J. Merchant and Paul S. Schleifman, Esq.

“Rebuilding Together – AFF was formed and has benefited greatly from Barney, Beverly, Al and Paul’s expertise and collegial generosity. Our staff, board and our many partners feel privileged to have worked with these board members and are enormously grateful to them for their many contributions,” said Patti Klein, RT-AFF Executive Director.

Three of the four board members (Barney, Beverly and Paul) were instrumental in establishing Rebuilding Together Arlington/Fairfax/Falls Church, Inc. as an independent non-profit affiliate of Rebuilding Together, Inc.

Barney began volunteering with the organization when it was a program of another nonprofit. Barney served as the unofficial Parliamentarian to the board and his quiet and thoughtful leadership style along with his extensive experience working on other boards of directors helped the board grow and shine. Barney was a National Rebuilding Day Team Leader for Psi Alpha Alpha Chapter Omega Psi Phi Fraternity for 35 years. “The Psi Alpha Alpha team worked on a lot of houses,” reflected Barney, “and I’m really proud that we have worked where people really need help – along the Route 1 corridor in Fairfax County.” He continued by saying “Our board worked very well together, from the first day we discussed becoming an independent nonprofit. This was the key to RT-AFF’s growth and success.”

Paul (r) was instrumental in creating the legal framework to establish Rebuilding Together Arlington/Fairfax/Falls Church, Inc. Bruce Jolly, another founding RT-AFF board member, brought Paul on board. They were once law partners and Bruce knew that the team needed someone with Paul’s skills and acumen. “From September 2010 through January 2011 I worked with Bruce and Patti to form the new entity, develop by-laws, apply for tax exempt status and recruit the Board of Directors,” recalled Paul. “We received our 501(c)3 status in six weeks – we were astonished it happened so quickly!” Paul served as RT-AFF’s Corporate Secretary for 11 years and modestly said “It was really cool to create an organization from scratch.”

Beverly joined the board just as the new Rebuilding Together – AFF was getting off the ground. “The foundation had been laid, including all the legal work, but the construction still had a long way to go,” recounted Beverly. “Being part of the team that worked on building RT-AFF was especially rewarding because we knew that having a well-functioning board was necessary to assure that RT-AFF could fulfill its mission and expand the services provided.” Beverly served as Board Secretary, Chair of the Governance Committee, and  as an NRD Team Leader for a group of real estate agents from Keller Williams McLean. Beverly also spent many NRD’s as an RT-AFF ambassador, visiting teams at work, spreading cheer, taking photographs for our marketing efforts and getting to know the homeowners the teams were assisting.

Al joined the RT-AFF board in 2014 and in addition to being an all-around engaged board member, including as Vice Chair of the board, Al was a key member of RT-AFF’s leadership team for the NeighborWorks America Excellence in Governance (EIG) program. During the 18-months of the EIG process, Al’s service on numerous other boards brought an important perspective to the leadership team’s discussions about how the board could take its work to the next level. “Al’s insights helped us to better organize ourselves and focus our efforts in a way that has since allowed us to better support the critical work that RT-AFF carries out in our communities every day,” said Andrew Dumont, RT-AFF Chair. “We will miss Al’s quick wit and sharp intellect but know the organization will forever benefit from the many ways he invested his time and passion into RT-AFF over the years.”

Al also brought on M&T Bank as a sponsor and team for National Rebuilding Day. Al and the M&T team have enjoyed supporting our programs by working on numerous non-profit residential facilities and one home as part of their commitment to our community.

Thank you Barney, Beverly, Al and Paul for your service to Rebuilding Together – AFF.

 

Installing a railing

Celebrating our 218th RT Express Project!

Created in 2015 to fill a gap in our services, Rebuilding Together Express (RT Express) augments and complements our traditional home repair program. RT Express allows us to respond more rapidly to help more low-income homeowners age in place safely and comfortably. RT Express has evolved steadily. In 2015 we tested this model in eight homes, in 2016 we adjusted the scope and repairs and refined procedures through 22 pilot projects, and in 2017 we increased capacity and standardized procedures to complete home modifications and repairs on 35 homes. Now in 2020 we are celebrating our 218th project!

Nine highly committed Team Leaders have been the heart and soul of RT Express over the past five years – Bob Austin, Brian Goggin, Mark Heslep, Patrick Hughes, Bard Jackson, Bill Marshall, Don McCubbin, Ken Mittelholtz and Woody Woodburn. They collaborate with RT-AFF staff to make a comprehensive assessment of each home, develop the scope of work, assemble tools and materials, oversee the repairs and establish a trusting relationship with our homeowners, who are mostly senior citizens. Fall safety is a top priority, with grab bars, double stair rails, comfort-height toilets, and brighter lighting leading the list of repairs. RT Express projects also address fire safety, security, moisture and ventilation problems, and energy-saving upgrades.

RT Express has drawn a pool of skilled and talented volunteers who work regularly on projects and take deep satisfaction in learning from each other and in making dramatic differences in our clients’ lives. “It’s so gratifying to put my remodeling skills to work to make such a profound difference in someone’s life,” said team leader Bob Austin.

Since the beginning of our RT Express program, our volunteers have been able to correct 95% of fall hazards and 92% of ALL hazards for the homeowners we’ve served. We measure our success using Rebuilding Together’s list of 25 Health and Safety Priorities.

Homeowner Mrs. B wrote this note to us to express her gratitude for the repairs and modifications we made at her home:

“The railing on the back stairs and the railing in the house and the gravel under the driveway and… I can’t name just one repair that made the biggest difference for me! All the repairs have lifted my spirits and made a big difference in my sense of physical and mental wellbeing.”

Please visit our Flickr page to see photos from our RT Express projects and many other projects we’ve completed for homeowners in need. We are extremely thankful to our RT Express Team Leaders and the men and women who have made it possible to help so many seniors age safely in place.

Check out our Flickr page for more project photos.

Railings, Half steps, Grab Bars

Grab bars, railings, dryer vents