May 27, 2014
Tears welled up in Paula’s eyes as she surveyed her south side Neenah home undergoing a transformation thanks to volunteers, most of whom she had met for the first time earlier in the day.
“It’s unbelievable – it’s awesome,” she said. “I just didn’t think that so much could be done in such little time and awesome workers – it’s wonderful.”
Paula’s home now has multiple safety and energy efficiency upgrades plus fresh coats of paint inside and out thanks to the sponsorship of Community First and about two dozen CFCU volunteers. It was one of 13 area homes involved in Rebuilding Together Fox Valley’s recent Spring Project Day.
Living alone for years, Paula had not been able to make many changes due to limited income and a lack of do-it-yourself skills. “The new roof, the new bathroom, new windows – everything; I’m very thankful. Nothing has been upgraded for like 25-30 years so everything needed to be done.”
Rebuilding Together is a nonprofit organization that preserves and revitalizes homes for low-income seniors and disabled who own their homes. “What we do at Rebuilding Together is help people like Paula be warm, safe and independent in their homes,” said Paul Welhouse, RTFV board president.
On the April 26 Spring Project Day, Welhouse said over 600 volunteers were involved at 13 home sites and one community project site in Appleton. The projects often have a positive impact beyond the project site. “It’s a revitalization that happens and usually spreads throughout the neighborhood. We tend to see more people taking better care of their homes when we do this.”
Among the volunteers were CFCU’s Mara Snedeker and her son, Drew, 15, who worked on a lot of the interior painting throughout. “I enjoy meeting the homeowners on the Rebuilding Together projects,” said Mara, who returned a couple weeks later to help paint a bathroom and help Paula replace a wall clock. “They need us and appreciate all we do.”
“I love helping out and meeting the owners,” said Sara Vertz, head teller at Nicolet, who also helped with the interior painting. “I’m a brand new homeowner so it’s really helpful to get this learning experience while I’m volunteering. It’s a win-win situation.”
Besides the Community First volunteers, some skilled volunteers from Rebuilding Together and a Fox Valley Technical College instructor and 10 students studying to be electricians assisted. The home’s old and hazardous electrical service was completely upgraded by the FVTC volunteer crew while the skilled tradesmen guided the replacement of windows and the front door, which needed new framing due to rotted out boards.
Volunteers even tackled one project not on the list, removing most of a rotted wooden deck in a debris-laden area behind the garage and constructing a nice looking wall and deck area with all the rock pieces strewn about the space.
“Everybody is willing to do whatever it takes to get the job done and it is super appreciated,” said Jim Riley, RTFV coordinator.
“We are so grateful to all of our sponsoring companies and volunteers who helped make Project Day 2014 such a big success,” said Mary Beth Leopold, RTFV executive director. “We impacted the lives of 13 homeowners and their families as well as helped a community partner fulfil a dream of having their own Health Education Center in downtown Appleton that will serve hundreds of people each year. It’s just a great day of community involvement and we couldn’t do it without our business partners like Community First.”