Get Involved: Rebuilding Together-St. Louis
The local arm of this national volunteer org is revitalizing St. Louis neighborhoods, one home at a time.
For many individuals and families, especially those in low-income households, the elderly and the disabled, taking care of their home can be something they simply cannot do on their own. More than 30 years ago, a group of like-minded citizens in Midland, Texas wanted to fix up the dilapidated homes in their community. Nine years later, the program, then called “Christmas in April” (named after an early home recipient told a reporter that receiving the services was like having “Christmas in April”), had spread to Washington D.C., where members of the Cabinet and other officials were active volunteers.
In 1992, Rebuilding Together was incorporated in St. Louis. One year later, the organization had 105 volunteers who helped work on five homes. Now, nearly 20 years later, the organization has grown to help even more homeowners in need; to date, Rebuilding Together-St. Louis has helped over 2,000 homeowners. “The need for Rebuilding Together’s services have never been greater,” says Laura Hurt, Associate Executive Director of Rebuilding Together-St. Louis. “We make it possible for homeowners to remain in safe and healthy homes, keep their independence and preserve home equity, which in many cases is the sole source of personal wealth for these struggling families.”
Homeowners In Need
Homeowners in need of assistance from Rebuilding Together-St. Louis must fill out an application and supply supporting documents to the organization. Nonprofit organizations that have facilities in need of repairs can also apply. Once approved, members of the board, staff and volunteers evaluate the home. All repairs are paid for by monetary donations or in-kind donations from businesses, foundations, other service organizations and individuals at no cost to the homeowners.
The Difference A Day Makes
Each Rebuilding Together affiliate holds an annual Rebuilding Day where hundreds of volunteers make home repairs across the city. The blitz may be a single day, but the impact is profound, both for homeowners and volunteers. RT-STL held its Rebuilding Day in May where 2,500 volunteers helped paint, plaster, glaze, clean and repair 100 homes in eight hours.
The one-day volunteering opportunity that the Rebuilding Day offers is attractive to busy professionals who may have limited time, but who still very much want to give back. However, Hurt says, Rebuilding Together needs volunteers year round for ongoing projects. Some repairs—leaky roofs, malfunctioning toilets, crumbling stairways—pose safety or health concerns and cannot wait until Rebuilding Day. Handy individuals can join the Rebuilding Together Express team to help remedy these needs on an ongoing basis. Those who aren’t as confident in their hammer-swinging abilities can still help. Skilled wordsmiths can assist with the grant-writing process; social butterflies can help plan special events and fundraisers; people-persons can help with public relations efforts; those who like to organize will be a great asset in Rebuilding Together’s office, making calls, answer phones, enter data, prepare mailings and filing.
For more info on how you can get involved with Rebuilding Together-St. Louis, log on to rebuildingtogether-stl.org.
Photo credit: By Jay David, courtesy of Rebuilding Together-St. Louis