Our team had the pleasure of chatting with members of Rebuilding Together [St. Louis] to learn more about the organization’s incredible story. Continue reading to discover just how it’s helping the community.
What is the ‘why’ behind Rebuilding Together?
Rebuilding Together began in Texas in the 1970s as an effort to help neighbors who needed assistance with home repairs. The idea took off and eventually turned into a national network of nearly 130 Rebuilding Together affiliate locations.
It’s been working in St. Louis since 1992, helping people age in place by providing repairs that improve safety, independence, and comfort for homeowners. Volunteers remain at the heart of our work, although we’ve grown to be able to provide major repair work utilizing contractors and union partners as well. Overall, it has a vision to provide safe homes and communities for everyone.
What keeps the organization’s members motivated to do what they do every day?
In St. Louis, there are hundreds of homeowners who have worked hard their whole lives, but who are now unable to keep up with necessary home repairs and maintenance. This happens for many reasons such as low retirement incomes, changes in mobility as people age, limited loan options, and aging housing stock with old systems. Its work helps people to stay in their homes safely, so they no longer have to live with problems like roof leaks, fire and tripping hazards, or low visibility due to poor lighting.
Working at Rebuilding Together St. Louis allows the team the opportunity to meet so many fascinating people who have anchored their communities for decades and play a part in helping them to continue living in their long-time homes.
How is it changing the community?
Home maintenance and repair makes a huge difference in the life of low-income older adults, veterans and individuals with disabilities. Its work has been proven to improve physical and mental health, improve safety, and to preserve homeownership. That means that a significant family asset can be passed to the next generation, and prevent additional vacancies in our city.
How can others get involved with the charity?
Many people connect with Rebuilding Together through its volunteer opportunities. Each year, it hosts Rebuilding Day events where teams of volunteers help to repair homes. As staff, each of them at Rebuilding Together brings a strong desire to help neighbors stay in their homes.
May volunteers have friends and family members who have needed assistance as they get older and have seen first-hand how much difference even small modifications can make. The opportunity to do this on a broader scale for up to 100 homeowners each year is what drives us.
How do volunteers feel to be a part of something like this?
This work can be challenging because we hear from so many homeowners seeking assistance. There is simply so much need; it wants to help as many people as possible, and as a nonprofit organization we strive to stretch our funds as far as we can and in the most effective way possible.
But when it steps back and looks at a homeowner who can now safely maneuver a wheelchair in and out of his house, or someone who will sleep more soundly because there’s no rain coming in around the windows, it’s worth it to know we have made a real difference.
Why is it important to invest in community?
St. Louis is a big city, but in many ways, is also like a small town. We care about our neighbors. It sees this so clearly at Rebuilding Together, especially when volunteers from across the region come together to support older adults who have worked hard, served our country, raised their families here and contributed to the life of their neighborhoods. Providing home repairs shows them that they are not forgotten and that people really do care.
What else do you need to know about Rebuilding Together?
Rebuilding Together St. Louis has provided free home repairs for low-income older adults, veterans and individuals with disabilities for nearly 30 years. It is able to serve approximately 100 households every year by leveraging the power of volunteers. In fact, for every dollar invested in its work, it is able to provide $4 of value to homeowners.
Last year, the average age of homeowners served was 72, and more than 93% were African-American. 21 out of 93 were veterans, and on average they have owned their homes for 31 years.
Click here to visit its website.