‘Rebuild Day’ volunteers pitch in to fix a senior’s home

See why this Powellhurst-Gilbert neighbor was so delighted with her home’s rehabilitation …

Busy at work in an outer East Portland “senior village” volunteers work to fix many deficiencies at a resident’s manufactured home.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton

Delayed from last April due to concerns about the COVID-19 coronavirus, volunteers from nonprofit Rebuilding Together Portland (RTP) held their annual day of service, “Rebuild Day”, on Saturday, September 26.

“Together, our affiliates and volunteers serve veterans, older adults, or low-income families, by providing them with a variety of critical home repairs – or major debris and garbage removal,” explained RTP Executive Director Mike Malone. “The repairs are provided free of charge to the homeowners who, often faced with diminishing resources, often must choose food and medicine, over critical home repairs.

“Our sites are stocked with personal protection equipment and supplies, and there is a ‘Safety Coordinator’ at each site; we’ve tried to be as careful as possible, because the safety and health of everyone is our priority,” Malone remarked.

Malone introduced us to a crew working in Powellhurst-Gilbert neighborhood along SE 122nd Avenue – a project site sponsored by the local chapter of the National Association of Women in Construction (NAWIC).

NAWIC representative and crew leader Joanna Westrich, of Lease Crutcher Lewis, says both men and women volunteer at their projects.

“This is the third year that my organization, NAWIC, has sponsored a house for Rebuilding Together Portland, and we’re all happy to be helping the elderly homeowner – the widow of veteran, with recent medical problems – to get things done here like she used to,” said project crew leader Joanna Westrich.

“We’ve got 16 volunteers, representing at eight different companies here today, including several from Bremik Construction, K & D Window Coverings, Scansa, and Anchor Insurance,” Westrich told East Portland News.

“Measure twice, cut once,” reminds volunteer Leanna Smith of K & D Window Coverings.

The siding on her manufactured home was severely failing in many places; windows needed repair; and the house also need a fresh coat of paint to seal it against the coming winter weather, Westrich pointed out.

“We also cleaned up her yard and planted flowerbeds, and also got rid of pickup truck-loads of accumulated stuff,” remarked Westrich.

One of seven volunteers on-site from Bremik Construction is Kyler Armknecht, here caulking a window.

Companies pitch in with supplies for Rebuild Day, including Lowe’s Home Improvement – and in this particular case, Miller Paint, the organizer said. “It’s not just that the homeowner’s house is being made safe and beautiful; it gives her increased pride in her home, and a sense of security that there will not be water damage, with a nice exterior that she can be proud of.

“The people in my group love participating in Rebuild Day; it’s just so fun for us to be here together, giving so much love back to people,” Westrich said, as she went off to consult with volunteers.

Smiling as she paints is volunteer Amber Clarke.

The homeowner, Mary Switzer, came out to look at the work that was underway, and smiled warmly. “It’s just fantastic! All these wonderful people working to help me with my house. I can’t thank them all enough for fixing my siding, and helping with the yard.

“I just want to say, ‘Rebuilding Together Portland people, thank you, from the bottom of my heart!’”

Learn more about Rebuilding Together Portland at their website: CLICK HERE.

© 2020 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News™



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