Peeling paint, decaying eaves, a broken hot-water heater and a host of other problems that plague homeowners can seem overwhelming to those with limited energy, ability or resources. “Rebuilding Together,” formerly known as “Christmas in April,” set out again this year to help rehab homes in the Chicago area, three of them in Evanston.
“What a blessing,” one woman told the RoundTable. She said she had quit work to care for her elderly mother, and found that keeping up the house was next to impossible. Volunteers from Rebuilding Together and from “One Brick” – a volunteer organization that, as one member described it, “helps out other volunteer organizations” – replaced soffits and siding that had decayed from exposure to the elements, replaced the hot-water heater and painted inside walls and outside doors.
“These are really good-hearted people,” the woman said. “Now we can sleep confidently and safely.”
At another site in Evanston, volunteers from First Presbyterian Church, Sojourner Covenant Church and Baird and Warner on Central Street were repainting walls, reworking electric sockets and replacing carpet in an upstairs apartment so the owners could rent it.
Volunteers worked at both worksites for several days prior to the big day, which saw hundreds of volunteers rehabbing 53 homes on the North Shore, said Mike Murdock, president of Rebuilding Together. “This year we had more than 100 applications [for help].” While many other charitable organizations have seen their support dwindle in the past year, Mr. Murdock said Rebuilding Together has “had a good year. Businesses, foundations and individuals have been generous this year … in part because housing is at the forefront [of people’s consciousness] right now. … What’s unique about us is we have donated labor so a $2,500 donation can effectuate $5,000-$10,000 in repairs.” The volunteers at Rebuilding Together, he said, want to “keep the homes up and keep the people in their homes.”