Repairing one home won’t change the world, but the world will change for that homeowner.
Thomas* is an Army veteran who served in the Vietnam War. His parents moved into their Alexandria home in 1949, and Thomas has lived in the house for 55 years.
He has many fond memories growing up in his Alexandria home. He remembers his first Christmas trees, his first pet, large holiday dinners with his grandparents, and bands playing on the lawn at birthday parties in the 1960s.
Thomas has endured challenges since then. He is a double-amputee and is dependent on a wheelchair now. He also had a hip replacement and a stroke. To accommodate his disability, Thomas has handicap rails on all stairways, bars in his bathroom, a wheelchair on each floor, a wheelchair ramp off the back deck, a first floor bedroom, a gate built in to the driveway side of the front porch railing, and floors without any carpeting.
We have completed several repairs for Thomas over the years. Most recently, our volunteers repaired his front door, painted the bathroom and foyer, installed mini blinds in the bathroom, trimmed shrubs and bushes, adjusted a gate, filled a sinkhole in the driveway, and installed an exterior sun shade on the front porch.
"The staff and volunteers did a great job," said Thomas. "You could immediately see and feel the improvements, large and small."
Thomas is thankful for many things: He says he has incredible neighbors. He can access many different locations and businesses from his house much more easily than from other locations. And he is thankful for all the repairs that Rebuilding Together DC Alexandria has done for him over the years.
"It has been amazing to see the transformation," said Thomas. "From the rear-deck and furnace to the brightness in the hallway and bathroom, there has been such a big improvement. It is hard to look back now and calculate just how much Rebuilding Together has improved the quality of my life."
Jessica* loves her home of 40+ years. It is where she raised her three children with her late husband, and it is where her grandchildren come to visit her. "I don't want to live anywhere else," Jessica says. "I just turned 77 and I hope the rest of my days will be here..."
Jessica is living on a limited income and wasn't able to afford the home repairs she needed. She reached out to us, and we were able to send over some volunteers and contractors to put new flooring in her kitchen, fix a fence that had fallen down in her backyard, install a new stove, repair a handrail, and more.
"Rebuilding Together was there when I needed them," Jessica says.
The wintertime is a tough time for our neighbors in need. A broken window or the lack of a working furnace can significantly impact the quality of life for low-income families and individuals during the winter.
Harold* is one such homeowner. Harold grew up in a small town in Illinois. He served in the Army during the Vietnam War, and then lived and worked in Boston for over 30 years. He has been living in Alexandria with his wife for the past 13 years.
Harold and his wife had no heating or air conditioning in their Alexandria home, and during the wintertime they were cold and very uncomfortable. They had to use floor heaters as a temporary solution. Repairs to their heating system would normally cost about six or seven thousand dollars. After they completed our application form, local contractors fixed their heating system, free of charge to them.
"Your contractors did fantastic work," said Harold. "They were professional, pleasant, and respectful. They were just fantastic. And once they finished, everything worked perfectly. Ever since they left, we haven't had any problems. We couldn't be happier."
Elizabeth* moved into her current home in 2000, where she now lives with her two sons and 11-year-old grandson. She helped start an all-day preschool in her neighborhood while working in a public elementary school cafeteria.
We sent volunteers to replace her fence and fix deck stairs leading up to her house. She spent all day outside in the hot summer sun with them, appreciating the company of her neighbors as much as the work being done. "They're the best," Elizabeth said. "Everyone has been so nice and helpful."
Originally from North Carolina, Bill* is a former truck driver who enjoys hunting and fishing. He reminisces about the rabbits, perch, and bass he caught over the years, gesturing to show the large size of one particular fish he caught.
Bill has been living in Alexandria since the 1940s. He moved into his current house in the 1950s, shortly after it was built.
"I watched every piece of it being put together,” Bill said. "It's very nice here. My neighbors and I all get along well."
Our volunteers removed the carpet in the living room, hallway, and three bedrooms; installed foam insulating tubes on exposed water lines; secured a mailbox post; installed a bi-fold door and glass window panes; and more.
Now that the carpet has been removed, it is much easier for Bill to move throughout his house. He is grateful for all the repairs Rebuilding Together DC Alexandria completed in his home.
"Every one of the volunteers was nice," Bill said. "And they did a beautiful job."
#* It is Rebuilding Together DC Alexandria’s policy to not disclose clients' real names