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.

 

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

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.”

Wells Fargo Foundation

Wells Fargo Grant Provides Critical Repairs for Homeowner in Fairfax

Wells Fargo FoundationReplacing a roof is expensive and not part of our regular scope of work, so when RT-AFF received Mrs. T’s application we weren’t sure we could help her. Thanks to a grant from The Wells Fargo Foundation, a national partner of Rebuilding Together, we were able to make this critical home repair that allows her to live safely in her home of 24 years.

“I will always be very grateful for everything you did for me. I want to express my gratitude to Wells Fargo, Mr. Don, Mr. Jon and all of the angel volunteers who fixed my house and made it safe,” exclaimed Mrs. T.

Mrs. T learned about RT-AFF when she opened her Fairfax County Real Estate Tax Waiver mailing and found a flyer describing our program. It was very difficult for her to ask for help because she took pride in her independence, but her roof was leaking in many places and her kitchen ceiling had collapsed.

Mrs. T and her husband owned a successful restaurant in their home country. After immigrating to the U.S. to find safety and new opportunities for their teenaged children, they worked for a catering company, received security clearance, and served at many events for government agencies and at the White House. Their son served in the U.S. Air Force and completed four tours of duty in Iraq. He also ran for office in county government. When Mr. T became ill and had to stop working the children shifted their lives to be nearby to help their parents.

Living on one income was difficult and when the roof started leaking Mrs. T placed buckets around the house to catch the water. After Mr. T passed away the close-knit family continued to help as best they could. But the buckets catching rain were multiplying and during one storm the kitchen ceiling became so waterlogged it came tumbling down. Then the pandemic hit and Mrs. T lost her catering job. Every storm caused new worries that the roof wouldn’t hold, especially when the wind howled. She was desperate for help.

The Wells Fargo Foundation grant allowed Rebuilding Together – AFF to hire a contractor to replace Mrs. T’s roof. After the roof was replaced and the house was water-tight, RT-AFF volunteers repaired the kitchen ceiling, installed a donated dishwasher, added grab bars, railings and new lighting and made many other repairs that resolved 13 Health and Safety Priorities. Now that Mrs. T’s home meets all 25 Rebuilding Together Health and Safety Priorities she feels safe and sound and looks forward to living there for many more years.

Volunteers working inside

Roofers at work

 

We have a lot more photos from this project and others on our Flickr albums.

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.

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

Bucket of tools

All Projects Postponed due to Risk of COVID-19

To protect our volunteers, homeowners, and staff and reduce the risk of community-spread of Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19), Rebuilding Together-AFF has decided to postpone all National Rebuilding Day, RT Express and other year round projects and activities until further notice. All home visits, home assessments and workdays must be postponed until at least May 1st. In late April we will review the situation, evaluate the risk and reevaluate the schedule with our partners and volunteers.

Although our offices will be closed for a couple of weeks, we will be working remotely and available to talk and help you navigate any issues that arise.

We are accepting applications for free home repairs and we are taking phone calls so please reach out to us if you have questions or need assistance.

We appreciate your support and understanding as we try to do our part to “flatten the curve” of virus spread. We look forward to getting back to our hands-on work when it is possible.

 

MORE INFORMATION ABOUT COVID-19
More information regarding COVID-19 can be found on the website of the
Please check additional guidance from local authorities.

Arlington County – https://health.arlingtonva.us/covid-19-coronavirus-updates/

2020 IFDA-DC Masquerade Ball Benefitting Rebuilding Together – AFF

Event Update!
The 2020 Masquerade Ball hosted by the International Furnishings and Design Association – DC Chapter (IFDA-DC) raised almost $9,000 for RT-AFF’s programs. We want to express our thanks and appreciation to all of the IFDA-DC volunteers who worked long and hard to make the Ball an amazing and successful event in support of safe and healthy housing. Little did we know that a week after the Masquerade Ball we would be working from home and practicing social distancing.
Masquerade Ball Volunteers
Pictured above from left to right are Chris Gribbs (RT-AFF Board Member), Patti Klein (RT-AFF Executive Director), Laura Hildebrandt (IFDA-DC Volunteer), Michele Fick (IFDA-DC Board Member), Jean Edwards (RT-AFF Board Member), Debbie Harp (IFDA-DC Board Member), Andrew Dumont (RT-AFF Board Member) and Rebecca Penno (IFDA-DC President).

Read more

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.”

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.