Free home repairs offered on Westside
Rebuilding group targets elderly, disadvantaged

       Need some home repair done? How about some plumbing or painting or possibly a wheelchair ramp?
        Can't afford it, you say? How does “free” sound?
       This is the recently announced offer to Westsiders from Rebuilding Together, a non-profit Colorado Springs agency that is attempting to geographically expand its volunteer fix-it efforts for seniors, the disabled and low-income people.
        Spokesperson Karen Weber gave a presentation about Rebuilding Together last month to the Organization of Westside Neighbors (OWN), and said she wants to get the word out to as many people as possible on this side of town.
        Rebuilding Together, which has existed in Colorado Springs since 1996, grew out of Christmas in April, a community volunteer effort that began in 1971 in Midland, Texas, and now has chapters across the country.
        Along with monthly “spruce-up Saturday” workdays, the local agency will be participating in National Rebuilding Day April 24 - hoping to include one or more Westside homes among the 20 to 25 it plans to work on that day, Weber said.
        Also on its annual schedule this year is a one-week visit by Group Workcamp, a 400-member, nation-wide Christian home- repair group that will be in the area Aug. 1-7.
       Applications for Group Workcamp's repair list need to be submitted by March 15, while people can sign up for Rebuilding Together's monthly “spruce-up” projects any time. Applicants' eligibility is considered on a case-by-case basis, but anyone 60 years or over automatically qualifies, Weber said.
       And the word “free” really means that. Labor is volunteered and materials typically donated.
        “Some people want to know what the catch is, but there isn't any,” Weber said. “We have volunteers who do the work, which not only keeps seniors independent but improves their quality of life.”
       The volunteers range from skilled professionals to teen-agers just starting out. The main types of projects are carpentry, weatherizing, plumbing, electrical, gutters, scraping and painting, and home modifications such as grab bars and wheelchair ramps.
       “We try not to do cosmetic things,” Weber said.
       Rebuilding Together partners with a number of area agencies, including Rocky Mountain Community Land Trust, Partners in Housing, Greccio Housing Unlimited and the Area Agency on Aging.
       Financial support comes from various businesses, foundations, and public entities.
        Since 1996, the group has chiefly worked in the downtown area, but a recent increase in staff is allowing an expansion to other parts of the city, Weber said.
       About 60 percent of Rebuilding Together's jobs stem from people calling on their own behalf; other requests come from family members or health-care professionals, she said.
       In 2003, according to the agency's website, Rebuilding Together repaired 245 homes in the Pikes Peak region. Volunteer labor was valued at $126,961.
       Work volunteers are always welcome. “They just need to call the office and we'll send them an application,” Weber said. “We use volunteers who are skilled and unskilled.”
       Skilled workers can become house captains (crew leaders), while unskilled workers are assigned to crews, performing tasks they can handle - such as scraping or painting - and gaining experience in more detailed tasks.
        “Very often people join our cause because they want to help their neighbors,” Weber said. “We just provide tools and guidance, and encourage family members to participate as well.”
       Workdays are 9 a.m. to 3 or 4 p.m., and Rebuilding Together treats its volunteers to pizza or sandwiches.
        Among the types of agency volunteers, Weber said she has observed an increase in “single women who want to learn how to fix up a house.”
       Rebuilding Together can be contacted at 634-4115.

Westside Pioneer Article