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Helping needy homeowners be safe and secure in their homes

SHELBURNE Warmth, safety and independence so important to everyone, a basic need of humans. But there are many people those basic needs are not being met and in apparently comfortable towns like Shelburne, Charlotte and Hinesburg, pride may keep them from asking for help. An organization that focuses on repair, rehabilitation and refurbishing can help and two representatives of Rebuilding Together came to the meeting of the Charlotte Shelburne Rotary Club on Wednesday, Oct. 10 to tell about their work. Mike Jarvis and Michelle Gray, members of the Board of Directors of Rebuilding Together in Vermont, explained that the organization is the volunteer arm of the Vermont Association of Homebuilders and is incorporated as a 501c3 non-profit. In Vermont they have one major project day a year, bringing together about 100 volunteers to repair a house. This year they did a project in Colchester, installing a new heating system and repairing the roof of a house, and also installed new windows in the Heineberg Club. Warmth, safety and independence are their goals as they make needed repairs to homes where the owners cannot afford to do the work themselves and dont have family to help them. The challenge, they said, is finding homes and homeowners who need their help. With their connections, and the generosity of suppliers, they typically can leverage the funds they raise by about 10 to 1. They get help from lumberyards and manufacturers, and all their labor is volunteer. They said there are Rebuilding Together organizations in 865 cities in 50 states and they work on 8,500 homes with 275,000 volunteers, contributing the equivalent of $90 million in work and rehabilitation. In addition to helping people in need, they find that their projects often improve the conditions in a neighborhood as neighbors, made aware of a needy situation in their midst, not only help with the Rebuilding Together project, but continue to be more caring for their neighbors. Michelle read a letter from a nine-year-old boy in Grand Isle who wrote asking for help for his father who was so overwhelmed with the cost and work of repairing his extremely deteriorating home that he could not spend time with the boy. Rebuilding Together installed a heating system, repaired walls, floors and roof. They said that they identify possible projects through CVOEO, churches, the CEDO office in Burlington and the VNA, and are always seeking volunteers to help with projects, as well as raising funds. Currently Rebuilding Together is looking at a project in Charlotte, planning to do emergency repairs this fall and major work next spring. They would welcome Charlotte Shelburne Rotarys assistance as volunteers on the project. Rotary President Anne Pardee introduced the guest speakers, recounting the history of the organization and her own experience working for it. She said that a man named Bobbie Trimble in Midland, Texas recruited his mens club to fix up and repair a neighbors house, prompting the person who had been helped to comment that it was like Christmas in April. The name stuck as the organization grew, although it has been renamed Rebuilding Together in some areas. Anne was director of the Christmas in April organization in Montgomery County near DC for eight years during which time the projects grew from 20 houses repaired in a one-day blitz by 800 volunteers, to 60 houses repaired in a day by 3,000 volunteers.

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