Rebuilding Together – Metro Denver is one of seven nominated charities for the next Charity Hand-Up Contest taking place from December 1-14, 2012. The Denver/Boulder community is invited to participate by voting on Facebook and spreading the word about these seven Colorado causes. The top charity will receive $5,000 and the public can enter to win 1 of 10 prizes.
While the work of some other organizations to build new housing for the needy is admirable, the work that Rebuilding Together Metro Denver (RTMD) does, which is to help low-income homeowners, primarily older adults, veterans, and those with disabilities, fix up their homes or make them safer is even more important in many ways.
“Few people know our organization but we play such a vital role because we’re working with existing homes, as opposed to building new, so it’s a greener solution and one that helps people stay in their homes,” explains RTMD CEO Kathryn Arbour.
RTMD provides a continuum of services for home repair projects for those that qualify. On one-end they have emergency services for furnace or water heater repair or replacement in the winter, and on the other they provide a year-round handyman program where volunteers perform every day repairs or safety modifications like adding grab bars or handrails, installing a smoke detector, or fixing a leaky faucet. They also hold about 25 to 30 rebuilding days, which are usually sponsored by a local or national company, where volunteers from that company focus on fixing up one entire house.
“We focus on anything to make a house safer and more habitable for the most vulnerable in the community,” explains Arbour.
RTMD, founded in 1999, is a local affiliate of a national organization based in Texas. Their roots go back about 30 years when groups of individuals in small communities simply helped their neighbors stay in their homes as they aged. It was called Christmas in April then, and now there are about 200 RT affiliates – a mix of metro and rural locations – scattered around the country.
With only three full time Denver employees, RTMD relies heavily on volunteers that are both skilled handymen/women, or those that want to learn. They also have a network of supply and trade partners, such as electricians, plumbers and HVAC specialists, that offer expert help or needed supplies at either a discount or for free.
But, Arbour, stresses, in this environment they could always use more. More financial donations and more volunteers for anything from repairs to social media and more professional trade partners.
Don’t know how to do even basic handyman work? No worries. They offer a free training program for any volunteer who’s interested in learning how to swing a hammer. So not only can you feel good that you’re helping out the most needy in your community, you’ll also come away with the knowledge of how to fix a toilet, put up dry wall or hang a door! Skilled volunteers act as mentors so that the newbies can gain confidence and become another year round resource for RTMD.
Last year they had almost 2,200 volunteers who averaged 1,000 hours each of work. “We end up touching the lives of over 2,000 different kinds of people over the course of the year,” Arbour says proudly.
But the accomplishment she’s most proud of is being the pilot program and subsequently the model for a new program initiated by the national office in 2011 called Building a Healthy Neighborhood. Instead of focusing on a single house, they focused on helping fix up an entire block in the Barnum community. Located between Alameda and 6th Avenue and Federal and Sheridan, the area was chosen with the help of the City of Denver because of the numerous economic challenges it faced. In the span of about six weeks, they fixed up a total of 31 homes with the help of hundreds of volunteers.
“That whole process was really thrilling and terrifying at once,” recounts Arbour. “The results were amazing! We felt very proud that it not only turned out so well and because it became a model for the national organization.”
With the cold season approaching, a donation of $5,000 would go into their emergency services fund to help those in need stay warm or have hot water throughout the winter with new furnaces or water heaters. For more information about Rebuilding Together Metro Denver, and ways to donate your time or money, please visit www.RebuildingDenver.org.
Vote to Give Rebuilding Together Metro Denver a $5,000 Hand-Up
As a Colorado owned, Front Range focused bank, Citywide Banks shares a commitment to our local community with Rebuiliding Together Metro Denver. Through its Charity Hand-Up Contest the bank is spotlighting the great work and ongoing needs of local charities around metro Denver. Based on the results of a 14-day vote on Facebook, the community will determine how $7,500 is split among seven Colorado charities nominated by Citywide Banks employees. The charity receiving the most votes will receive $5,000 and the runner-up will receive $1,000. The remaining donation amounts will correspond to the voting results for each nominated charity. The voting public can also enter to win 1 of 10 prizes, including dinner for two at a couple of Denver’s top-rated restaurants. Official prize drawing rules are available by clicking here.
How to Cast Your Vote – December 1 -14, 2012
The voting will take place at Facebook.com/citywidebanks. Users will need to make sure they are logged into their personal Facebook account. If a user doesn’t have an account, it only takes minutes to set up a new Facebook account and it’s free. The online voting form will only be accessible for Citywide Banks Facebook Fans. To become a Fan, simply click on the “Like” button on top of any of the pages on Citywide’s Facebook Fan Page at Facebook.com/citywidebanks. Then, click on the link for the ”Charity Contest” tab to access the online voting page. Each Facebook account will be permitted one vote during the 14-day voting period.