Welcome New Board Members

We are pleased to announce that Christy Plunkett-Barese and Condalisa Smith have joined our Board of Directors.

Christy Plunkett-BareseChristy Plunkett-Barese is a Financial Advisor partnered with Northwestern Mutual, helping clients build a road map for financial security and achieving their personal goals. Prior to joining Northwestern Mutual, Christy spent fourteen years working for two of the nation’s largest non-profit organizations – The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society (LLS) and the American Red Cross, National Headquarters.

Christy’s first exposure to Rebuilding Together was working on a block build with her former employer, Georgia Pacific Corporation, in Atlanta, GA. Their team of 45 volunteers helped elderly homeowners in a tight-knit neighborhood with deferred maintenance, yard work, painting, repairing hand railings, and some roofing too. Helping these homeowners had a huge impact on Christy and led her to change her career path. She joined the staff of the American Red Cross a few years later so she could focus her work on helping people in need.

During her 14-year tenure in the nonprofit sector Christy was a successful fundraiser and public policy advocate. She helped to raise nearly $14 million from high-net worth individual donors including a national campaign to provide naming opportunities for donors at the historic American Red Cross National Headquarters in Washington, D.C. She developed strategic communications, fundraising campaigns, and shaped public policy that directly impacts people’s lives.

“I have a passion for giving back to my community and to do work that helps others to have a better life,” said Christy. “I look forward to contributing my expertise and skills to Rebuilding Together-AFF.”

Condalisa Smith (photo and bio coming soon).

 

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.

 

Welcome New Board Members

We are very pleased to announce that Scott E. Brideau, Tamara Fye, Shanton Kittler and Norris Middleton have joined our Board of Directors.

Scott Brideau is the Workplace Studio Principal for Little Diversified Architectural Consulting’s Arlington office. With over 35 years of experience in the industry including seven in construction, he leads a team focused on office base building, mixed use and corporate interiors. He is responsible for client relationship management, business development, project coordination and scheduling, as well as staff development and growth.

As Co-Chair of the Community Outreach Committee for the Mid-Atlantic Chapter of CoreNet, Scott became familiar with RT-AFF and RT-AFF’s excellent charity ratings sold him on becoming involved with us. Scott served as the CoreNet Team Leader for two projects with RT-AFF. For their 2015 project, the team worked on one of New Hope Housing’s homes in Alexandria making electrical repairs, replacing cabinets, power washing, caulking openings and securing loose siding, and cleaning gutters to reduce insects and to prevent water from entering the group home.

Scott is founding and current Co-Chair of the Urban Land Institute Washington Sustainability Initiative Council, serves on an Arlington County Advisory Board that helped develop the 40-year comprehensive community energy sustainability plan, and is a 2018 graduate of Leadership Arlington, a nine-month program for established leaders, designed to strengthen and build community and increase the cohort’s impact on the organizations they serve.

“I am excited to join the RT-AFF board. My involvement as a team member and team leader on Rebuilding Together projects gave me a good background in the direct services that RT-AFF provides and how hands-on volunteers can make a big impact for homeowners in need and for nonprofit housing organizations,” said Scott. “I am looking forward to sharing my expertise and skills with the team. Everyone faces different challenges with the built environment and helping people live safely in their own homes is an essential community service.”

Tamara Fye is a well-respected and dedicated Licensed Nursing Home Administrator and Physical Therapist. Currently she is a consultant providing education and guidance to seniors and their families as they navigate independent living, assisted living and memory care placement. During her career she became known for creating operational stability and becoming personally engaged with the residents, families and staffs of the nursing homes where she served as Administrator or Executive Director. Her goal was to enhance successful and purposeful aging for the residents she served.

“I’m really pleased to bring my 34 years of experience and a deep understanding of seniors and their needs to Rebuilding Together – AFF,” said Tamara.

As a physical therapist Tamara developed a thorough understanding of how people move through and live in their homes and how to make homes safer. “People who choose to age in place, like many of the homeowners RT-AFF serves, have different needs than those who live in a structured environment,” Tamara said. “I feel privileged to serve on the RT-AFF board and to share my knowledge and expertise to make our community a better place for everyone.”

Shanton KittlerShanton Kittler, Senior Vice President, SBA Lending Manager at MainStreet Bank brings more than 15 years of banking experience to our board. Her passion for the small business community and her background in banking is extremely beneficial to Rebuilding Together – AFF as we continue to strengthen our financial position.

She is active in the banking community through her involvement with Business Network International, and she serves on the Board of Directors for FSC First, a certified development corporation, and Maryland Commercial Lenders Association. Shanton is also a mentor in the VBA Women’s Mentorship Pilot Program.

“I’m excited to serve on the Board of Rebuilding Together – AFF and to give back to the community, especially our seniors,” said Shanton. “As I’ve watched my mother age I’ve gained a lot of experience and understanding of the needs of seniors.” She continued saying “I’m in more of a caregiver role with my mother now, and I’ve been able to help her adapt her home to her mobility issues. I can only imagine what it’s like for seniors who don’t have families or the funds to take care of things like grab bars, high toilets and other modifications to keep them safe at home. I’m really excited to be part of the solution.”

Norris MiddletonNorris Middleton is the President and CEO of Management Support Technology, Inc, (MSTI), a Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Business (SDVOSB) certified by the Department of Veterans Affairs. He has over 50 years of professional experience in project management, systems engineering and integration, design, development, life cycle methodologies, testing and documentation. Norris is a U.S. Army veteran and has been volunteering with Rebuilding Together – AFF for more than 30 years on National Rebuilding Day as a member of the Psi Alpha Alpha Chapter of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity team. He comes to our board with the highest of recommendations from long-time RT-AFF Board Member Col. (Ret.) Marion “Barney” Barnwell.

Norris brings extensive financial, strategic planning, management and mentorship skills to our Board. Norris’ management style is critical to the success of MSTI. He explained “even though we have government customers, our first customers are our employees – if they are happy, then the customers that they serve are happy resulting in excellent evaluations and recommendations.” He continued by saying “getting people to buy-in and feel as though the project is their own is critical to both my corporate work and my volunteer work.”

In addition to being a very active leader and member of Psi Alpha Alpha, Norris serves as the Treasurer for the National Veterans Small Business Coalition, Treasurer of RMOA Business Alliance and on the Board of Directors for the Bernie L. Bates Memorial Scholarship Fund.

“I’ve really enjoyed being part of National Rebuilding Day with Barney and our team,” said Norris. “Each of the projects we’ve worked on has been memorable and unique. It’s important to take care of members of our community and help make their lives easier.”

Allen Schirmer, Founding Board Member, Retires

by Bruce Jolly, RT-AFF Board Member

Allen Schimer, Bruce Jolly and Tony Poole (l-r)

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.

Allen and Colleagues

Rebuilding Together – AFF is Top-Rated Nonprofit for 2019

“We are honored to be named a 2019 Top-Rated Nonprofit,” says Patti Klein, RT-AFF Executive Director.

“We are proud of our accomplishments his year and want to extend our thanks and share this award with all of our volunteers and supporters.”

The Top-Rated Nonprofit Award is the based on the rating and number of reviews that Rebuilding Together – AFF received from volunteers, donors
and homeowners. One of our reviewers wrote “Volunteering with RT-AFF has been very enlightening as far as seeing others in need, and how kindhearted volunteers step up to help when and where they can. This non-profit brings out the best in people, and has been a heartwarming experience for me personally.”
“Rebuilding Together – AFF is a great example of a nonprofit making a real difference in their community,” said Perla Ni, CEO of GreatNonprofits, “Their award is well-deserved recognition not only of their work, but the tremendous support they receive, as shown by the outstanding reviews they have received from people who have direct experience volunteering with them.”

RT-AFF Welcomes Dawn Wilson to our Board of Directors

We are very pleased to welcome new board member Dawn Wilson.

Dawn brings extensive legal and real estate experience to our Board of Directors.  Dawn strongly believes in the power of community and how everyone can help each other. She looks for the win-win in every situation and how she can make connections to bring the right people together for the best solutions. “I enjoy working to improve my community and I’m very impressed with Rebuilding Together – AFF. Patti’s dedication, along with the dedication of the board, staff and volunteers, is making our community better,” remarked Dawn. “I understand the challenges of aging in place and I’m looking forward to helping people in need continue to live safely in their own homes.”

Dawn is a Certified Seniors Real Estate Specialist (SRES®) and has gone through specialized training to understand the special needs of senior citizens. She’s also certified in divorce real estate and probate real estate, areas where special understanding of the sensitivities and dynamics of her clients is critical to successfully representing and caring for them. Dawn is married with two children and has lived in Arlington for over 26 years. She’s worked in both law and real estate, developing her expertise as a “connector” to help clients, colleagues and the non-profit organizations she serves find great solutions. Dawn is a Realtor® with TTR Sotheby’s International Realty. She graduated from New York University School of Law with a JD in 1993 and from Hofstra University in 1989, summa cum laude, with a BBA in Finance and Banking.

Meet Jon Armstrong – RT-AFF Director of Programs

Jon Armstrong

Jon Armstrong joined our staff in January as Director of Programs. Born in Canada, Jon spent the first half of his career in Toronto in the construction industry. In 1993 he moved his family, including two small children, to Costa Rica to pursue his passion for construction in the growing tropical market. Over the course of 24 years Jon built 75 homes around San Jose, Costa Rica. He employed a diverse workforce of 60 including carpenters, electricians, plumbers, masons and painters, and oversaw the work of subcontractors. In 2017 his wife’s company relocated them to Arlington so Jon closed his business. As a retiree he enjoyed getting to know Arlington, remodeled his new home and re-learned how to live in four seasons.

Fortunately, RT-AFF Board Member Allen Schirmer met Jon during the Arlington Home and Garden Show and eagerly recruited him to volunteer. Jon worked on several projects with our year-round volunteers including building ramps, replacing a sliding glass door and installing a stair lift. When Jon learned that the Director of Programs position was open he re-evaluated how he was spending his time in Arlington and applied for the position. “I was a workaholic and enjoyed running my company and building homes for executives and business owners in Costa Rica,” he said. “I served on community boards of directors but I never had a hands-on role in a non-profit. I’m looking forward to giving back.”

“Jon has an incredible background in residential development and project management,” remarked Patti Klein, Executive Director. “We saw his passion and drive to do great work while he was a volunteer and that made a big impact on our hiring decision.”

Jon jumped right in and is feeling at home. He’s been working with staff to learn our processes, meeting with homeowners to assess homes and understand the needs in our community and gearing up for National Rebuilding Day. “I’m looking forward to meeting all of our House Captains and key volunteers and learning from everyone,” stated Jon. We hope that each one of you gets a chance to meet Jon soon and tell him about your experiences helping our neighbors live in safe and healthy homes.

RT-AFF Welcomes New Board Member Sanjay Srikantiah

Sanjay Srikantiah, Patti Klein and Michael Holmes (Burke UMC)

We are very pleased to welcome Sanjay Srikantiah to the Rebuilding Together-AFF Board of Directors. Sanjay works in the Financial Services Industry.

Sanjay learned about RT-AFF at a Community Foundation for Northern Virginia meeting where Patti Klein, RT-AFF Executive Director, was accepting a grant award. Sanjay was struck by Patti’s passion for bringing safe and healthy housing to low-income members of our community and was excited to be invited to visit a National Rebuilding Day project. “The homeowner was a senior citizen who adopted her grandson, and they needed a lot of accessibility modifications and repairs to their home,” said Sanjay. “The Burke United Methodist Church team did incredible work but what really struck me was how they connected with the homeowner. I could see that this was a life-changing experience for her, and the compassion shown by the volunteers was remarkable.” Read more

A Salute to Marcy Bartlett, RT-AFF Director of Programs

Please join us in wishing Marcy Bartlett a fond farewell. Marcy is leaving RT-AFF after six and a half years of service. Marcy will be joining her husband Steve in retirement as they downsize and move to a new community.

Marcy has had a huge impact on RT-AFF. She joined our team in 2012, one year after we incorporated. She had just spent a year contemplating what she wanted to do next after taking an “early-out” as a Director at Lockheed Martin. We were incredibly fortunate that our email blast describing the new Program Manager position landed in her in-box just as she was ready to take on a new challenge!

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