The house suffers, too, during hard times. And then a homeowner dealing with illness, age, disability or economic woes has a new problem: a home that endangers occupants’ health or safety.
That’s where Rebuilding Together of the Triangle steps in. The Raleigh nonprofit organization sends teams of volunteers and hired craftsmen to repair leaks, stop drafts, replace water heaters, pull up old carpet, put in flooring, eliminate electrical hazards, trim overgrown shrubs and fill many other needs.
“They were so caring and respectful and responsible,” said Lisa Gormon, 55, a language arts teacher struggling to find full-time work and whose 1950s brick ranch house in Greenbrier Estates in Garner received gutter repairs, new masonry on two stoops, yard cleanup and major trimming of shrubbery blocking safe exit of the driveway.
“They came when they said they are going to. They got the job done, and they even did some extra things while they were there. It was a wonderful experience,” said Gormon. “They hired a real mason, and he just showed up and fixed the stoops for us.”
Sending the right people for the job, ensuring permits and permissions are in place and getting supplies on-site falls to the organization’s two paid staff: Executive Director Dan Sargent and Program Director Sophie McMillan. They work with an 18-member board and are assisted by Victoria Gates, an AmeriCorps worker who is the program services coordinator and in December will compete her 11-month assignment.
One of 166 independent affiliates of the national nonprofit, Rebuilding Together of the Triangle has a core group of volunteers, including retirees who tackle midweek repairs. About 550 volunteers on corporate outings supply the manpower to repair owner-occupied homes in Wake, Orange, Durham and Chatham counties.
“We’re going to do 47 houses this year, which is the most we’ve done,” Sargent, who lives in Apex, said. “We have a waiting list of more that 225, so we need help. We’re plugging away. We’re hoping to do 55 or more in 2015.”
That number could grow with more resources, which come from companies, institutions and individuals. Office space is donated by BBH Design on Brownleigh Drive in Raleigh, and warehouse space is supplied by C.T. Wilson Construction in Durham.
“If we had the money, we could find the volunteers,” said Sargent, 28, whose budget now exceeds $300,000 annually, up from about $25,000 when he joined the organization in 2008.
Rebuilding Together is trying to raise $25,000 over the holidays to help more homeowners with efforts like the Sept. 30-Oct. 1 project that helped Gormon. Volunteers from Lowe’s Home Improvement, along with HGTV’s Carter Oosterhouse and his Carter’s Kids foundation, installed new playground equipment in a nearby park and helped five Greenbrier Estates homeowners.
Gormon lives in the neighborhood with her husband and their children, ages 16 and 25. An illness and a surgery left the family with large medical bills.
“With me being out of work and us not having any insurance, we just kind of went under,” said Gormon, who continues to look for a full-time job.
She appreciates that a person in her homeowners association saw the crumbling stoops and suggested applying for a Rebuilding Together project.
“It was a great experience,” she said, “and the things that we don’t have the strength to do anymore that needed to get done got done.”