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Rebuilding Together for the Community

Written by ryan. Posted in Uncategorized

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Published on October 27, 2010 with No Comments

By Rey Perez

Roofs? No problem.

Gutter replacement? Child’s play.

Landscaping and electrical? Go for it.

Whether small or large, tasks like these are all in a day’s work for the folks at Rebuilding Together-Valparaiso.

Rebuilding Together is the largest volunteer housing rehabilitation organization in America. They have affiliates in 865 cities and towns throughout all 50 states. One of those affiliates is Rebuilding Together-Valparaiso, an organization that has been open for business since way back in 1990.

In its nearly 20 years of service, Rebuilding Together-Valparaiso has focused on aiding the elderly, the disabled and the very low-income with the help of thousands of volunteers from throughout the community.

One of the most recent beneficiaries of the work of Rebuilding Together-Valparaiso was Marilyn Houston. Houston, a resident of Valparaiso, lives in the same home today as she did in 1953.

Her husband, Tom, who altered his birth certificate and joined the Navy at the age of 15, served during the latter stages of WWII in North Africa before returning home and starting a family with Houston. She moved into the home with her husband before he was again deployed to Pearl Harbor during the Korean War.

The proud father and patriot passed away in 1971, and Houston has chosen to remain in the house ever since.

As the years have passed, Houston has done her best to maintain the home, and has done a great job of it according to Rebuilding Together-Valparaiso’s Chairman John Albers, who coordinated the effort. However, with the cold Midwest winter on its way, the vintage home showed signs of its age and Houston decided to apply for assistance.

After reviewing her application, the selection committee of Rebuilding together-Valparaiso went into Houston’s home to determine if it was a project they could handle.

“We don’t have a one size fits all,” Albers said when referring to how the committee selects applicants from the many requests they receive.

However, Houston was an easy selection being that she is elderly and a widow of a veteran.

On Oct. 2, about a dozen volunteers had no problem doing small electrical work and some landscaping on the home, but they quickly realized the window replacement would be too large and too expensive of a project for them to tackle. That is where the Sears “Heroes at Home” initiative came in.

The Heroes at Home program, which partners with Rebuilding America, is a program that strives to improve the lives of military families by assisting with rebuilding projects and renovations across America. Upon hearing Houston’s story, they made the decision to donate a $7,500 grant to order up new windows for the dated home.

The windows look to be completed just in time for the frigid winter in late November.

“I’m so amazed, it’s truly a miracle,” Houston said.

Along with the windows, Heroes at Home and Rebuilding Together also brought in contractors to remove multiple trees in Houston’s yard that were in danger of collapsing onto the home.

Houston, who expressed that she is comfortable in her home, needed this help to be able to stay near to the neighbors she loves.

“I’m so grateful,” Houston said. “It’s just wonderful to get some help from Rebuilding Together.”

According to Dustin Wunderlich, the head of public relations for Rebuilding Together-Valparaiso, the revitalizations and repairs being done to these homes for the people in need are what continue to drive the efforts by all volunteers and staff.

“That group is just marvelous,” a satisfied Houston said as she laughed jovially.

Rebuilding Together-Valparaiso operates in the center township of the Duneland, Portage and Hebron area. They are always looking for applicants who want their homes evaluated at for eligibility, and are currently planning their 22nd annual Work Day on April 16, 2011.

The Valparaiso location still has spots available that they are looking to fill for the spring work day, and applications can be turned in by Oct. 31 to be considered eligible.

“The goal for this work day is 20 to 25 homes and to draw hundreds of volunteers,” Albers said.

For more information about Rebuilding Together-Valparaiso, to make a financial donation or to become a volunteer, visit www.rebuildingtogethervalparaiso.org, or call 219-548-4827. Rebuilding Together can also be found on Facebook or be contacted via e-mail at info@rebuildingtogethervalparaiso.org.

SIDE BAR:

Over the years, Rebuilding Together-Valparaiso has worked on over 300 houses. In recent years, the group has provided much needed renovations to the following:

  • 2009 – 35 homes and not-for-profit organizations
  • 2006 – 40 homes and not-for profit organizations
  • 2005 – 34 homes and not-for profit organizations
  • 2004 – 32 homes and not-for-profit organizations

SIDE BAR/BREAK OUT BOX:

Rebuilding Together Hobart Lake Station is now accepting applications from homeowners, volunteers and donations. The Work day will be April 30, 2011. All forms may be picked up at both Hobart and Lake Station City Halls, and at Alligator Construction in downtown Hobart. We are looking for all types of volunteers for our workday. Homeowners seeking work done on their house must reside in Hobart or Lake Station. Homeowners have until Nov. 30 to apply. For more information or to receive an application, call 947-5304, or e-mail rthobartlakestation@yahoo.com.

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