Sandra Dalton is just one of the many homeowners touched by the efforts of Rebuilding Roanoke.
A brand new front door that swings open and locks closed is a blessing for Sandra Dalton. So is her new back door, new basement door and new kitchen ceiling, all of which were made possible in one day when her house in Garden City was filled with volunteer workers. For others who, like Dalton, cannot physically or financially afford the upkeep their home needs, it might be a new heating system or replacement roof that dramatically enhances their lives.
These revitalization projects for low income, elderly or disabled homeowners are the work of Rebuilding Together Roanoke, a non-profit organization formed in 1998 as an affiliate of the national organization. Out of the recognition that the Roanoke Valley faces problems with its residential housing stock, this organization’s goal is “to ensure the needy have a safe, warm and dry living environment at no cost to the homeowner.”
“There is really such an inexhaustible need for these housing projects,” says Executive Director Ed Murray, one of the organization’s original board members. “We always need more volunteers and more funding.”
Murray says they have fixed up 80 to 90 homes this year, but the application pool has tripled in the last two years, and there is a consistently long waiting list.
Selecting from this long list the homes most in need based on factors such as age, critical need and disability, Rebuilding together Roanoke then evaluates the specific problems in the house and sends volunteers to complete repairs. Most of these long-needed improvements take place on the last Saturday in April, deemed “Rebuilding Day,” which saw the happy transformation of 30 homes this year.
“They did a wonderful job,” says Sandra Dalton, who owns one of these houses repaired on Rebuilding Day. “They were all nice, they were all polite, and I really am thankful for them. It took a lot of pressure off of me.”
Dalton, who has lived in Garden City her whole life and even helped raise two grandchildren there, is just one beneficiary of “neighborhood revitalization.” Rebuilding Together Roanoke, often hand-in-hand with fellow organizations Habitat for Humanity and Total Action Against Poverty, among others, believes that improving one home, inside and out, will holistically improve the quality of life for families and neighborhoods.
Rebuilding Together Roanoke asks you to “imagine working your entire life to pay for your home and then due to age or disability you can no longer perform needed maintenance.” A $30,000 grant from the Foundation for the Roanoke Valley as well as other generous sponsorship has allowed the organization to increase its aid to the community over the years. The rebuilding process is mutually beneficial, giving church groups, camps and other organizations the chance for new experiences through hard work.
As Murray says, though, the need is “absolutely tremendous” in the Roanoke Valley, but tremendous as well is the effect that each revived home can have on people’s lives.