by Bruce Jolly, RT-AFF Board Member
Allen Schirmer, one of Rebuilding Together Arlington/Fairfax/Falls Church’s founders and Treasurer of the Board of Directors, recently retired from our Board. Allen’s retirement from the Board comes with a sense of gratitude on all fronts.
Allen began volunteering with Christmas in April, the precursor to Rebuilding Together, in 1988. The rector of our church, St. Peter’s Episcopal in Arlington, asked him to take on the church’s first project. Knowing that having a partner would make things easier, Allen recruited me. We’ve been RT-AFF partners for 32 years and I’m grateful he brought me along on this journey.
In 2010, Patti Klein asked me to participate in a focus group to talk about how to develop a new nonprofit organization, as they had been operating as a program of another nonprofit at the time and it became clear what we needed to become an independent organization. I said yes, as long as Allen could come too.
Allen volunteered to serve as Treasurer for the new nonprofit – Rebuilding Together Arlington/Fairfax/Falls Church, Inc. He set up strong financial controls and developed indicators of financial health to make Rebuilding Together – AFF a successful organization. The solid financial groundwork he laid is helping us weather the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Part of the magic of Rebuilding Together – AFF is our volunteers and teams. Allen and I have had a lot of fun repairing 33 homes with our St. Peter’s team for National Rebuilding Day (NRD), RT-AFF’s signature annual event in April. It’s always a pleasure to stand with Allen at the end of a project and thank the homeowner for allowing us into their life. The ability to bring hope and a safer place to live to a neighbor in need is an incredible opportunity for both the homeowners and the volunteers. Sharing this with Allen has brought great joy to everyone involved.
Allen and I have had many successes and met more than a few challenges as NRD House Captains. We’ve learned something from every homeowner we’ve helped. NRD boils down to three important lessons. First, we make homes safer and more livable. Second, our teams learn incredibly valuable lessons about working together in new ways. Finally, it’s a great feeling to know our effort has given those we assist the feeling they can carry on because we can do more with many hands than they could do alone. These lessons also illuminate the way I feel about having worked so closely with Allen for 32 years.
I speak for the entire Rebuilding Together – AFF Board, staff and our community of volunteers and homeowners to thank Allen for his 32 years of dedicated service. We appreciate his leadership and his dedication to excellence. We are grateful for his many contributions to Rebuilding Together – AFF’s success so our neighbors in need can live in safe and healthy homes. We wish Allen all the best as he leaves the board and moves to a new community to be closer to family and grandchildren.