National Rebuilding Day

April 30 is National Rebuilding Day!

Rebuilding Together Arlington/Fairfax/Falls Church (Rebuilding Together AFF) will host more than 300 volunteers to repair 15 homes and nonprofit residential facilities on National Rebuilding Day – April 30, 2022 

Teams of volunteers from our faith and corporate partners will serve older adults, families with children, veterans,and two nonprofit housing services by making a variety of critical home repairs, including: flooring repairs and replacement, weatherization repairs, handrail replacements, accessibility modifications like grab bars and raised toilets, painting, landscaping, and other deferred maintenance items. The repairs are provided free of charge to our neighbors in need, who are often faced with diminishing resources and must choose food and medicine over critical home repairs. 

According to the National Center for Healthy Housing, 45 million homes in the United States have at least one serious home hazard present; these have the capacity to directly impact a family’s physical health and safety.

“The last few years have shown us the importance of having a safe place to call home,” said Patti Klein, Rebuilding Together AFF Executive Director. “The critical repairs being made not only in April, 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.”

Rebuilding Together AFF has been a leader in safe and healthy housing in our region since 1988. To date we’ve gathered over 70,000 volunteers who have made repairs and modifications on more than 2,500 homes and nonprofits. Our volunteers have provided over $15 million in donated labor.

National Rebuilding Day originated in 1973 in Midland, Texas with volunteers helping neighbors rebuild their homes. The group founded Rebuilding Together, at the time “Christmas in April,” and gathered around a month of service each year in April. The mission then grew beyond the idea of providing service one month per year to bringing volunteers together to provide neighbors in need with critical repairs year-round. 

Please donate to support safe and healthy homes for everyone.

#WeAreRebuilders

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.

 

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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.

Daniel with volunteers

RT-AFF Builds Ramps to help People with Disabilities Remain in Their Homes

Don cutting lumberRamps are critical to help many homeowners with disabilities safely enter and exit their homes. RT-AFF volunteers and staff have built five ramps since July 2021. Some of the homeowners we’ve helped were unable to get out of their homes for critical medical appointments without assistance from first responders or very strong friends to lift them. Other homeowners risked falling each time they left their home, so they became isolated.

The ramps we build allow homeowners to leave their homes safely and without fear. Ramps allow them to make more trips to get medical care, make more choices in their daily activities, reconnect with family and friends and safely age in place.

Each ramp requires a lot of planning and design. We take into consideration the specific point of entry to the home, space limitations, the slope of the property, and the maximum slope allowable for ramps.

Collage of photos
Some ramps are fairly simple, like the one we built for Daniel in Fairfax (pictured above). Materials cost about $250 and a team of four volunteers spent about 19 hours on the design, buying and delivering materials, and building the ramp.

Ramp almost complete
In contrast, Angela lives in a mobile home in Alexandria. The front door of her home is elevated 30” above the sidewalk. Materials for her ramp cost close to $1,500 and our team spent about 150 hours designing and constructing the ramp (pictured above).


Thanh’s ramp at his home in Falls Church was built inside an enclosed porch with a concrete floor, so our team didn’t have to dig footers and pour concrete. Still, planning and building the ramp and repairing the walkway from the ramp to the front of the home took about 120 hours. Thanh and his wife are extremely happy to have safe access to their home.

Our volunteers love the teamwork and camaraderie of working together to build ramps and make other accessibility modifications and repairs. Our volunteers, donors and partners make all this work possible so homeowners in need can live safely in their own homes.

Visit our Flickr to see more photos of our ramp projects and other repairs and modifications we’ve made to help homeowners in need.

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

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

 

 

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

 

 

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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.”

 

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

Fall Rebuilding Days

Our first Fall Rebuilding Day was a huge success thanks to the support of seven of our longtime partners and a team of our year-round volunteers. The repairs and modifications they made will have a lasting impact for the homeowners and nonprofit residential facilities that we served.

We are incredibly proud of our team leaders and volunteers who joined us after missing two National Rebuilding Days due to the pandemic. “I was fortunate to visit many of the nine projects on Saturday to see our teams in action,” said Patti Klein, Executive Director. “The energy and smiles from the volunteers and homeowners were contagious! Everyone was excited to be back out in the community doing what they love – making a tangible difference in the hearts and homes of our neighbors.”

More than 100 community members volunteered their time to tackle a variety of repairs and modifications to correct health and safety hazards that included: installing grab bars and railings; making plumbing and electrical repairs; replacing appliances that were no longer functioning; installing new toilets, vanities, faucets and exhaust fans in bathrooms; patching and painting damaged walls, doors and ceilings; diverting water away from homes; removing and repairing broken fences; tacking overgrown yards; and so much more.

Please join me in thanking our caring and dedicated volunteers for an incredible day of work! And a special thank you to the women and men who served as team leaders who spent countless hours planning repairs, coaching their teams and sweating the details to make their projects a success.

2021 Fall Rebuilding Day Partners:

ACCA – Annandale Christian Community for Action
Bush Hill Presbyterian Church
Dulin United Methodist Church
Fairfax United Methodist Church
The Falls Church Episcopal
St. Mary’s Episcopal Church
St. Peter’s Episcopal Church
RT-AFF Year-Round Volunteers

RLAH Real Estate hosted their very first Rebuild on September 15 in Arlington. It was a big success and the volunteers had a great day working together to help a neighbor in need.

Dell Technologies Women in Action DC/Virginia Chapter completed our first She-Build project, bringing together a team of women volunteers to help a single mother by making repairs at her home so she and her family can live safely.

Here are some highlights from our Fall Rebuilding Days.

4 photos of volunteers working
Burke United Methodist Church (pictured above) has been partnering with RT-AFF since 1998. House Captains Mike Holmes and Mike Sawin can always be counted on to accept challenging rebuilding projects and this year was no different. The BUMC team made critical repairs for a retired couple in Burke whose townhome was frequently inundated with water due to its low position in the neighborhood, and poor drainage. The team developed and executed a water mitigation plan and rainwater now drains into a nearby culvert rather than into the family’s basement. Faulty work in the basement done by a paid contractor also had to be corrected so the team replaced studs, installed drywall, painted, and made electrical repairs , transforming the rooms into bright, welcoming spaces where the couple’s grandchildren can play safely. They also cleared a dryer vent blocked by mice nests and made many other critical repairs and safety modifications. Mr. J said “Mike and the team did a great job. If there was something that needed doing they got it done. We’re very grateful and we feel safer and more secure in our home.”
three photos of team at work
Dell Technologies Women in Action DC/MD/VA Chapter (above)  joined us for their first rebuild and our first She Build. “Helping Dina was really empowering for both her and our team of volunteers,” said House Captain and RT-AFF Board member Jean Edwards. “Some of our team members learned to do home maintenance projects they’ve never done before, and we helped Dina develop a sense of pride of ownership. She was overwhelmed by her responsibilities as a single mother, and tremendously grateful for our assistance.”
Fairfax United Methodist Church (pictured above) made repairs at two Gabriel Homes residences. Gabriel Homes provides residential placement, training and community integration for adults with developmental disabilities and is a nonprofit that the FUMC team loves to support. House Captains Mary McDaniel and Patricia Hupalo and their teams painted many rooms in both homes, making the rooms brighter and more welcoming. The teams created safe and tidy outdoor spaces for the residents by clearing overgrown plants and brush that were tripping hazards, correcting standing water problems that allowed biting insects to thrive, and taking care of other deferred maintenance. Outdoor spaces are an especially critical need during the pandemic and bring joy to the residents of Gabriel Homes.
St. Peter’s Episcopal Church, Arlington completed their 34th rebuilding project with us this fall. Homeowners Mr. and Mrs. C enjoyed the camaraderie and great rapport with the St. Peter’s volunteers. The C’s now have a fully functional, safe bathroom and a working kitchen after living without a shower and with multiple broken appliances. The team corrected 10 health and safety priorities and the C’s home now meets all 25 RT Health and Safety Priorities. “We had a great day!” exclaimed House Captain Tony Poole. “Rebuilding Day is one of my favorite days of the year because it allows us to give back and help a family re-establish safety and livability in their home. I can’t wait for our next Rebuilding Day.” The team was honored to have a visit from Arlington County Board Member Matt De Ferranti. Team Captains Bruce Jolly and Tony Poole showed Matt around the project so he could see the importance of the work RT-AFF and our volunteers do for homeowners in need. RT-AFF receives funding from Arlington County through a Community Development Block Grant.
Patti Klein, Bruce Jolly, Matt De Ferranti and Tony Poole.

Patti Klein, Bruce Jolly, Matt De Ferranti and Tony Poole.