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.

 

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

 

 

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

Lou at work

Behind the Scenes with Lou Wood – RT-AFF Stair Lift Expert

Lou developed a process that ensures the donated stair lifts are in good working order and can be safely re-used, spending about 10 hours on each donated stair lift.

American Trucks Positive Payload Program Supports RT-AFF

Rebuilding Together – AFF is pleased to announce that we’ve received a contribution from the American Trucks Positive Payload Program. American Trucks established the Positive Payload program in April 2017 to support non-profit organizations using pickup trucks in field work that improves local communities.

RT-AFF doesn’t own a truck, but we are fortunate that a several of our volunteers regularly bring their trucks to help us get materials and supplies to our project sites to help homeowners in need in our community.

You can learn more about the Positive Payload program here: https://www.americantrucks.com/positive-payload.html

Pictured below are (l-r) Scott Cambell, Doug Chapin, Alberto Chalmeta, Rich DiGiovanna, and Dick Meyers. The truck belongs to Dick Meyers, who’s been volunteering for Rebuilding Together-AFF more than 20 years. The team was making repairs for a Fairfax homeowner including repairing her back fence and shed door, air sealing her attic for energy efficiency, and installing a grab bar, smoke and carbon monoxide alarms and a fire extinguisher.

 

 

Time Flies: RT Express Teams Have Helped 75 Seniors Age in Place in Their Homes

Our vision for Rebuilding Together Express has come true:  small teams of 4-5 volunteers, working 4-5 hours, and spending $400-$500 for materials are helping seniors age in place safely in their homes. We’ve refined our procedures, enlisted the help of more than 40 volunteers who want to work regularly throughout the year, and completed repairs to more than 75 homes. Read more

RT-AFF Wins Commonwealth Council on Aging Best Practices Award

Patti Klein, Christy Zeitz, Dr. Richard Lindsay and Don Ryan (l-r)

The Commonwealth Council on Aging presented its top Best Practices Award to Rebuilding Together Arlington/Fairfax/Falls Church for demonstrating the effectiveness of surprisingly simple, low-cost repairs to correct health and safety hazards in low-income seniors’ homes. Dr. Richard Lindsay, Chair of the Council on Aging Best Practices Committee, presented  this competitive award, which comes with a $5,000 prize funded by Dominion Energy. Read more