This story may begin with bad news, but it doesn’t end that way. Seventy-five-year-old veteran “Charles” owned his home, but neither one of his bathrooms were in working order. This had been the case for months. Since he didn’t have the resources to cover the extensive repairs, they went unfixed. Charles reached out to Rebuilding Together Thurston County. His needs were assessed and in time he was the grateful recipient of teams of volunteers, who not only fixed the bathrooms, but rebuilt his fence, then sorted and removed two dumpsters of garbage and debris. With help from caring volunteers, many sad stories like this one have a happy ending.

Maria Chiechi
Volunteer Maria Chiechi is enthusiastic about the projects with RTTC. Photo credit: Mary Ellen Psaltis

One of the Rebuilding Together volunteers was Maria Chiechi. “I love doing the work for them,” she said about this large project. During the week, you will find Maria at the Adult Family Services Council of Washington State, where she works full-time as a legislative coordinator. Maria had participated in  Leadership Thurston County with Barb Soule, a Rebuilding board member. “She invited me to a fundraising breakfast,” explained Maria. It was at the annual fundraising event where Maria’s heart was touched by the tremendous need and wonderful results that are the hallmark of Rebuilding Together. She was ready to become involved.

When “Charles’s” home was selected as part of the annual rebuilding day, Maria organized teams from America’s Credit Union and the Interagency Committee of State Employed Women (ICSEW). It took the groups of volunteers more than two full weekends for the clean-up and repairs. “I was proud and thankful for the opportunity,” she said. She looks forward to the next project.

Rebuilding Together Thurston County serves low-income seniors and disabled homeowners. They also help low-income veterans and families with children in need of critical home repairs. Unfortunately, the need for services in our area exceeds the current funding of Rebuilding Together. In order to grow the organization, Board President Cathy Johnson reached out to Terry Taylor, Versoria owner, an organizational development consultant and executive coach. Over the past year, the board has been working diligently with Taylor on their strategic plan. They are on track for making many positive changes to the organization. This would include increased resources to serve more clients and the addition of a paid executive director.

Rebuilding Together
Maria organized teams to get together on annual rebuilding day. Photo courtesy: Rebuilding Together Thurston County

While many people may not have heard of Rebuilding Together, its influence is growing. For those who love to watch HGTV, a channel about finding and fixing houses, you might have noticed the recent competition between Property Brothers stars Drew and Jonathan Scott. Their show, Brother vs. Brother, concluded with the profits from the sale of the properties going to Rebuilding Together.

Our local organization is a magnificent community resource. It’s wonderful to do essential repairs so that people can live safely in their own homes; help them protect their most valuable asset, their home; and continue to live in their neighborhood. At the same time, Rebuilding Together offers teams of friends, colleagues, and businesses the opportunity to contribute their time and talents to members of our community. These are our neighbors. Another plus for volunteering is that groups work on specific jobs that have a start and a finish. This means that long-term commitments are not required, making fitting a project into our busy lives more feasible.

If you are looking for a way to get involved, Rebuilding Together Thurston County is seeking enthusiastic board members with marketing and construction skills. Those with knowledge of public relations and event planning are encouraged to also become involved. Please call the office or email info@rebuildingtogethertc.org to get more information.

Rebuilding Together Cathy and volunteers
Board President Cathy Johnson joins other volunteers in a Rebuilding Together Thurston County project. Photo courtesy: Rebuilding Together Thurston County

One of the stories I heard was about a person who had a serious roof leak. The industrious homeowner set up a system to direct the water flow through the house and ultimately into the kitchen sink. Yes, that would keep it off the floor, but wouldn’t fix the problem. Rebuilding Together came in and repaired the roof. This is just one example of how they can make a difference in the lives of people living right here in our community. And, how you can help. We couldn’t work with this homeowner because the damage was too extensive and cost too much to repair. The story is a good illustration of how desperately people need our help.

Do you have a team of handy people who want to help? Do you know a homeowner who does not have the means to fix their furnace or bathroom? Please call 360-539-7830 or visit the Rebuilding Together website for more information.

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