We couldn’t have asked for better weather or a more dedicated group of volunteers as we partnered with Fannie Mae during 7 Days to SERVE, their concentrated week of community service activities. During 7 Days to SERVE Fannie Mae employees volunteer with non-profit partners like Rebuilding Together -AFF who provide services to address housing related issues and build more sustainable communities. “7 Days to SERVE gives us the opportunity to support the communities where we live and work,” said Carla Nelson, Community Relations Specialist. “And it helps our employees by fostering long lasting relationships, provides leadership opportunities and helps people grow both personally and professionally.”
On our first day together a team of Fannie Mae volunteers made safety repairs for Mrs. B at her home in Arlington. She’s lived there for 51 years and takes great pride in making sure things are neat and tidy, but larger repairs and maintenance projects are beyond her means and abilities. That’s why volunteers like the Fannie Mae team are important.
“I wanted a project that was not only going to help someone in need, but also let me and my team get out of the office, get a little dirty and work with our hands,” said Fannie Mae team leader Mark Ribeiro. “Since we are an IT organization we spend a lot of time doing “brain” work. Volunteering to help RT-AFF and Mrs. B gave my group an opportunity to bond, and perhaps try some tasks/tools that were new to them.”
The team worked alongside skilled RT-AFF volunteers and made numerous repairs inside Mrs. B’s home so she can continue to age-in-place safely. They installed grab bars in her bathroom, brighter LED light fixtures, a smoke detector, a CO detector and a fire extinguisher. The outside work included tuning up and painting the wheelchair ramp, painting the steps with non-skid paint and demolishing a metal shed that had rusted through and become a safety hazard.
“Tearing down the old shed was simple. Assembling the new one was a serious project,” explained Mark. “I think our team and Fannie Mae as a whole takes pride in doing a job well, and making sure we finish what we started. We weren’t going to leave until we finished building the shed and knew that the homeowner had a well-constructed and safe place to store things.” Mark and several members of his team stayed at the project late into the day to make sure they finished what they started.
Jennifer Hanney, team leader for the second Fannie Mae work day, couldn’t wait for the list of 7 Days to SERVE projects to become available. She was delighted to sign-up her team for the RT-AFF project because she had worked with Rebuilding Together Houston after Hurricane Harvey and with RT-AFF and RT Alexandria and was committed to our mission. Jen’s team enjoys rolling up their sleeves, getting their hands dirty and having a diverse set of tasks to work on.
“The highlight of the day was meeting and engaging with Mr. N,” said Jen. “He shared his remarkable story as an immigrant and told us about his challenges taking care of his wife. It was a very emotional and touching start to the day.” She continued, saying “we could really appreciate how enthusiastic Mr. N was about having us there to help him. He did all he could to prepare for our arrival and worked tirelessly alongside our team all day.”
Twenty-five Fannie Mae team members spent the day repairing ceilings and painting inside Mr. N’s home, demolishing a wooden shed and removing construction materials that had been stored in the back yard. They carefully sorted metal and garden waste for recycling and filled a dumpster to the brim. Thanks to Fannie Mae’s support RT-AFF was also able to hire professional contractors to repair Mr. N’s roof to eliminate leaks and take down the crumbling chimney that had become a safety hazard.
It was hot and dirty work, and the Fannie Mae volunteers worked hard with smiles and enthusiasm throughout the day. Jen Hanney summed up her team’s spirit of volunteerism saying “Connecting with homeowner Mr. N made the day even more meaningful for us.”
Rebuilding Together-AFF partners like Fannie Mae are critical to our vision of safe homes and communities for everyone. Check out pictures of the Fannie Mae teams at work in two Flickr albums here and here.