Friday, January 09, 2009

Rebuilding Together

“I had no idea this was going to happen," exclaimed Angela. "It’s just like winning Powerball. And then when they told me everything that was going to take place, I was just too overjoyed. I just had to do what I am doing right now—sit down—and take it all in. My body got numb due to the excitement. I was just too floored."

Angela was sitting in her living room at her home in SE Washington, DC. Surrounding her were over 20 employees of Our Washington Nationals--workers wearing Red Curly "W" Construction Hard Hats volunteering their time to help renovate and restore Angela's home--all thanks to a grant from The Washington Nationals Dream Foundation partnering with Rebuilding Together of Washington DC.

Angela, a single mother with four children, three of whom live with her, has Multiple Sclerosis. Through no fault of her own, she can no longer work and is currently on Social Security Disability. "So my funds are limited. It’s not that I can’t maintain the property, I just can’t do the maintenance that they are completing for me. I was trying beforehand, but it just wasn’t working out.”

The Washington Nationals Dream Foundation has committed to improving the lives of children and families throughout the Washington, DC Area. Well documented here, The Dream Foundation's latest reach into their community is with Rebuilding Together--a non profit organization that provides free home repairs for the needy. Now entering its 26th year, Rebuilding Together of Washington DC, originally started operations as "Christmas In April".

"We work with the elderly, the disabled, also families with children. Those are our main focus points," says Rebuilding Together's Associate Director Laura Zabel. "We solicit applications through churches, through word of mouth, through different organizations that refer us to the homeowners. In this case, Angela applied directly to us. And then we referred them to The Nationals Dream Foundation. We had a couple of families in mind, but we picked Angela whose story was so wonderful. She has MS. She’s got four children, three of which are living in this home—all girls. She’s got her hands full because she’s no longer able to work. So, she can’t afford or physically over extend herself.”

And that's where The Washington Nationals Dream Foundation stepped in.

“We received a solicitation from Rebuilding Together in the mail," stated Vera Maher, The Managing Coordinator for The Dream Foundation. "Every couple of months we (Dream Foundation Staff) sit down at a grant committee meeting and look at requests from different organizations. We pretty much always select a local non-profit that is directly doing programs in the nearby area. We liked the information on the program for Rebuilding Together. A lot of us are familiar with them because their program use to be known at “Christmas In April”. And a couple of us in the office had experience where we had friends or relatives that Rebuilding Together had helped with household repairs and those kinds of things.”

“So, this was a great opportunity to do something directly for a family that was pretty close proximity to the ballpark. And then we started to work with Laura (Zabel--Rebuilding Together of Washington, DC), she gave us some candidates, we visited some homes and Angela was a good match for us. Everything grew from there. Then, we had some great volunteers from The Nats, people who are very skilled and know what they are doing. We brought them onboard. Carpenters, plumbers and electricians that work in The Facility Management Department of the (Nationals) ballpark and were willing to assist in this endeavor. So, we ended up with two crews. We have a professional crew to take care of the facility that does things like drywall, plumbing repair, carpentry, electrical, and the porch maintenance. And then we have another group of front office employees that are coming next Tuesday to do painting and the other fix it up stuff.”

Today's Refurbishing Staff included Matthew Blush, Director of Ballpark Operations; Larry DiVito, Head Grounds Keeper of Nationals Park; Bob Campbell, Director of Security; and Angie Kirby from Facility Management--among many, many other volunteers.

The Washington Nationals Dream Foundation provided the grant to renovate Angela's roof. A professional trade contractor--Wood & Whitacre completed that assignment. Then, The Foundation provided all the additional materials and workforce to make Angela's habitat a safe and welcoming home again.

Laura Zabel: “Oh my goodness!! These gentlemen and ladies, they stepped out of their vans this morning (Friday, January 9th)—about 20 of them and they went right to work. They demolished ceilings, worked on the plumbing and electrical. As you can see they are doing handrails out front and out back. Doors are coming off and being put back on. Their work is quick, definitely, and even though this is going to be a one day (tear down and rebuild) with painting to be a second day--it's all professionally done."

But is there any worry that something could go wrong due to the speed of the operation? (SBF)

Vera Maher: “No, not at all. There was a serious roof problem and a professional roofer was hired and a grant was made to take care of their work. And all of the very high skilled work is being done by people who do that for a living. The painting (on Tuesday) will be a mixed group of people. Those that know how to paint very well and those that are new.”

Rebuilding Together helps to repair approximately 100 family homes per year in Washington DC.

"All of this work is done at no cost to the homeowner themselves," stated Laura Zabel. " So, it’s wonderful that our organization can do this every year, but this partnership with The Nationals has been so wonderful. They arranged for the dumpster out front, all the skilled work, the grant covered the roof, all of the materials—so we just couldn’t be happier with them and for what's happening to Angela, the homeowner.”

As for Angela--her words say it all: "Is there piece of mind? Absolutely!! Before they did the roof, and the weather was bad, and the elements were bad, I would have to rush home and hurry up to get a trashcan up under the bathroom ceiling because it had started to fall (due to leaks). When I knew the roof had been completed, I was in my van screaming during a rain---knowing I didn’t have to hurry home to protect things from water damage anymore. That's piece of mind!!"

Once major construction was completed today, the painting and final touches will take place on Angela's home on Tuesday, January 13th.

Angela concludes: “I never thought this day was ever going to come and it’s all a blessing. It’s all a blessing. The people are just too beautiful. They are just taking care of me and spoiling me while they are all here. I absolutely hate sitting down and watching other people work. My mama didn’t raise me like that. If you see somebody work, you get up and work too. But it’s just overwhelming. And I am just so overjoyed.”

The Washington Nationals Dream Foundation makes their grants on a case by case basis. Every few months a committee sits down to discuss what needs in the community should be dealt with. But if Laura Zabel has her way--Our Washington Nationals generosity to Rebuilding Together will continue for some years to come. "We certainly hope so on our end! We just love this crew!! We couldn’t be happier. Honestly, it's just wonderful to see them in action."

A Few More Details:

Nationals Park Vendor and area restaurant chain, Five Guys Burgers, provided free lunch for all the volunteers and staff today. Next Tuesday, Papa Johns will provide lunch for the paint and final detail crews.

All work is fully inspected and reviewed. No shortcuts are taken.

Angela found out about Rebuilding Together of Washington DC through word of mouth. Rebuilding Together solicits through churches and other organizations that refer needy homeowners. Angela filled out the application, faxed it to Rebuilding Together and they along with The Washington Nationals Dream Foundation decided the worthy family for this effort.

Reaching into the community and making a difference. The Washington Nationals Dream Foundation continues to make important strides.

All Photos--Copyright, Nats320


Anonymous said...

Nice job and I support them!

paul said...

Great story, thanks.