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.

 

Bob Austin Head shot

Bob Austin Receives 2022 Privilege Award

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.

 

Board of Directors Graphic

RT-AFF Recognizes Retiring Board Members

Three dedicated board members retired from the RT-AFF board in January, and we’d like to recognize their outstanding service. “Bruce, Jean and Julie exemplify the meaning of volunteerism. They are each passionate about people, giving of their time and want to make real differences in our community,” said Patti Klein, RT-AFF Executive Director. “We truly appreciate all they have done during their tenures with RT-AFF.”

Bruce Jolly and Tony Poole

Bruce Jolly (l) and Tony Poole

Bruce Jolly began his volunteer service with RT-AFF in 1989 as a member of the St. Peter’s Episcopal, Arlington National Rebuilding Day team and was the first person to volunteer to help us become an independent nonprofit organization when we began the process in 2010. Bruce served as Vice Chair of the board for several years and provided ongoing legal advice and support. Bruce, along with his co-captains at St. Peter’s, led National Rebuilding Day teams that made repairs and modifications to 33 homes and nonprofits, primarily in Arlington. “I’ve enjoyed serving on the board of RT-AFF and helping homeowners,” said Bruce. “I’ve received a lot in return – mainly the joy of working together with friends and colleagues to get a job done and to make our community a better place.”

Jean Edwards (l) and Megan Robbins

Jean Edwards first came to RT-AFF to do a team project with a group from EMC, now part of Dell Technologies. She led her team on many projects including working on several homes and two USO facilities. Jean captained our first “She-Build” project with a team from Dell Technologies’ Women in Action DC/MD/VA Chapter in October 2021. Jean served as Secretary of our board, Chair of the Development Committee, and was an integral member of our Excellence in Governance team. “The Excellence in Governance program allowed me to grow as a leader and expand my skills to improve the RT-AFF Board,” said Jean. “My service to RT-AFF was all about giving to others and I appreciated the opportunity to make this valuable gift and to expand kindness and hope to our community.”

 

Patti and Julie

Patti Klein with Julie Hill (r)

Julie Hill was the first Chair of the RT-AFF board and led us through a successful transition from a program of another organization to becoming an independent nonprofit that was formally established in 2011. Julie began volunteering as a team member with Navy Federal Credit Union in 1991 and quickly saw the opportunity to take on a more significant role as a team leader. Over 23 years she led 1,350 volunteers to work on 25 homes, nonprofit group homes, schools and a USO. Julie received a 2019 Fairfax County Volunteer Service Award for her work with RT-AFF and in our community. Under Julie’s leadership the RT-AFF board completed an 18-month Excellence in Governance program and developed a strategic plan to shape the course of our organization. Julie’s passion to help reaches beyond our local community. In times of crisis, she volunteered with other RT affiliates to rebuild homes in Louisiana after Hurricane Katrina and in New York City after Hurricane Sandy.

We offer our sincere thanks to Julie, Jean and Bruce for all they have done to help make RT-AFF a resilient and strong organization, and for their commitment to safe homes and communities for everyone.

Volunteers working on roof

Our Year in Review

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!

Click on the images below to open our Year in Review and to view our slideshow:
Year in Review

 

 

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Welcome New Board Members

We are pleased to announce that Christy Plunkett-Barese and Condalisa “Lisa” 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.”


Lisa SmithLisa Smith is an Aging Life Care Manager™, Certified Dementia Practitioner, Virginia Licensed Social Worker and Certified Social Work Case Manager.  She’s the founder and owner of Healthcare Transition Partners, LLC. “I’m very proud and honored to have helped many families as they navigated care for their loved ones during the pandemic,” Lisa said. “It’s a beautiful thing to see a mother and daughter embrace after spending months being isolated from each other.”

Lisa has 30 years’ experience in diverse healthcare settings including 17 years as a social worker in a hospital setting. She graduated from Wright State University with a BA in Social Work and Psychology, and earned her MSM in management, specializing in Human Resources Management, from Indiana Wesleyan University.

Lisa has extensive expertise with, and deep understanding of the responsibilities of caregivers, and how to serve families by providing support and education. Her approach is to work with clients, families, caregivers and healthcare providers collectively to develop individual care plans that will meet her clients’ immediate and future needs. “Helping people and keeping our loved ones safe in their homes are my passions,” said Lisa. “I’m excited about working with Rebuilding Together to help our neighbors in need live safely. Everyone deserves a safe home.”

 

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.