Lynne Rintye, Tim Clarke, and Sue Parks received a grant to provide the Rintyes with a new roof.
Homeowner, Angela Hill, gathers with some of the Rebuilding Together volunteers who painted her home.
Julie Holbert: “I could not live in my home independently if it had not been for Rebuilding Together.”
Rebuilding together a generous community
By Dr. Ginger Gabriel
Special to The Alpine Mountaineer
What does Rebuilding Together do for this mountain community?
As we get older life happens – not just to us but to our shelter, our home.
Angela Hill, a Blue Jay resident, confided in me, “There are so many of us on the mountain who struggle to get by. When I moved to the mountains I was in good health. I knew there were improvements needed on my new home and I looked forward to making those repairs. I had a plan. Then, I was struck with a back injury. As the injury took center stage, repairs on the house weren’t happening. Seven years later, I looked at my home and remember praying, ‘God, I don’t know where to start or what to do!’ The furnace was really old, there was a hole in the floor, the porch was unusable, and the homeowners association gave me notice ‘paint your house!’ I was overwhelmed. I have no family anywhere near. If I paid my bills, there was little money left over to buy food. It would be safe to say I was depressed.”
Hill heard about Rebuilding Together and filled out the application. Her inspection team was headed up by Wayne Palmer who wrote that she needed a new furnace. She was thinking of a duct tape fix and never imagine a new furnace. The amazement culminated on Rebuilding Day when, early in the morning on Rebuilding Day, 62 people showed up at her house.
“The general contractor on the job, Wayne Palmer, had everyone so organized,” Hill told me. “All the materials were here and ready. On that day, a new furnace was installed, the house was painted, the hole in the floor was repaired, and my porch was made like new. Allison Banner was the team captain and made sure that every project was done correctly.”
A friend of Hill’s asked, “Weren’t you embarrassed? All those people there at your house to help you?” Hill reminisced, “I am so thankful. I am so grateful. It’s terrible to be in that situation. I never thought it would happen to me. To have your income depleted and no way to fix the big problems in your home. Sue Parks, Wayne Palmer, and their team found a donor to adopt my house. Sixty-two volunteers came and their only pay was a small breakfast, a sandwich for lunch, and a spaghetti dinner as they reported on the success of the day.
“I got a redo on my life,” Hill said. “I am now mentally able to get on top of other projects in my home. I got some surprise extra money last year and was able to send some of it to Rebuilding to help someone else get a redo. These contractors work for a living and yet they donate this day to help their neighbors.”
Thirty years ago this program was known as Christmas in April. The concept had begun in a Sunday School class in Texas. It seemed like a natural overflow of the scripture they were learning: “Do good works and be kind to neighbors, showing Christ’s love to others.” By 2008 dozens of spin-off groups agreed that Rebuilding Together better described their mission.
I next talked with Julie Holbert, who had moved to the mountains after she had been diagnosed with MS and her fiance had passed away. She moved up here in 2007 when she could still walk and used a walker and handrails to get around. Holbert was used to taking care of things herself and is a trained professional. She had a plan for her life and then life happened. As her disease progressed, there were handicap improvements that needed to happen on her property. She found out about Rebuilding from Phil Davis at church, who showed her how to apply for a wheelchair lift and handrails. When the inspection team came, they told her she also needed an approved electric panel. Rebuilding installed those items.
Holbert later fell in her home and broke her hip. When she had healed, she was able to return to her own home because those handicap improvements were in place. She applied in 2018 for a cement slab for an outdoor patio so she could go outdoors in her own home. Then the 2017 rains came and compromised her roof. She had leaks. The roof was patched on Rebuilding Day and tenacious Sue Parks found a grant that enabled them to replace Hobert’s roof.
“Sue Parks, I love her,” Holbert said. “We’ve become friends. She is very special to me. I couldn’t live independently in my own home if it had not been for Rebuilding Together. I also am very grateful for contractor Dave Bennett who found the porch lift and installed my concrete slab “
I asked Sue Parks what the goal was for Rebuilding Together. She said, “Our goal is to keep people safe, warm, and dry. It breaks our hearts when we can’t help if the repair is too great. We know what we can do and what we can’t. We know our limits and do what we can.”
Darrell Parks, Sue’s husband, regaled me with events he had witnessed during his years with Rebuilding Together. He remembers the homeowner who had no lights in the kitchen. If they needed light in the kitchen, they opened the refrigerator door. Therefore, they only used the kitchen during daylight. Rebuilding Together installed a kitchen light and the homeowner was grateful.
Another homeowner tended to his seriously handicapped, wheelchair-bound wife. Rebuilding Together was able to create wheelchair accessibility to the bathroom and widen an exit from the house to accommodate her wheelchair in case of an emergency.
The third home I visited was that of Peter and Lynne Rintye. Peter, a seven-year Vietnam-era veteran, had just returned from an emergency hospital stay. Rebuilding has worked together with other groups to keep the Rintyes safe, warm, and dry. They also gave Peter access from the car to the living spaces in his home with various lifts. Another grant provided them with a new roof.
Right now I’m putting April 29, 2023, on my calendar. I want to be a part of this generous community. The last day to request help on your home is Oct 31, 2022. Call (909) 336-3910 for help completing the application or, for more information, visit www.rebuildingtogethermountaincommunities.org.