0
Votes

Volunteers Rebuild Homes, Rejuvenate Spirits

Gift of Giving

Christmas comes twice a year for Richard Green, the executive director and chairman of Rebuilding Together with Christmas in April, Loudoun County.

Green, who has led the organization for four years, works year round to rebuild homes around the county.

Rebuilding Together with Christmas in April is a national organization that works with local affiliates to repair homes of those in need. It’s mission is to preserve and revitalize houses and communities, assuring that homeowners live in "warmth, safety and independence."

"We want everyone to be warm, safe and dry," Green said. "That’s our motto."

GREEN BEGAN REPAIRING homes nines years ago.

One of the most memorable projects he remembers was one that involved a 13-year-old boy in a wheelchair.

"His father abandoned him," Green said.

Green’s group collected materials for the installation of a handicapped bathroom in the home and set up a place for the boy and his mother to stay during construction. With one week to go, the boy had a heart attack.

"He was fine," Green said, "but it made the project sweeter to give them that."

Homeowners must be low-income and either elderly, disabled or families with children and are unable to do the work themselves, Loudoun Chapter volunteer Ken Bergner said. Individual families are referred through local organizations, like places of worship, community organizations and neighborhood associations.

All repairs are free for families.

THE LOUDOUN CHAPTER of the organization is asking for local residents to volunteer to rebuild homes in the area this Christmas.

In addition to volunteers to rebuild homes and local sponsors, Green said he needs a corresponding secretary, a recording secretary, a treasurer and a public relations person, as well.

When Rebuilding Together with Christmas in April established a Loudoun County chapter 16 years ago, it repaired 25 homes. Four years ago, they repaired 31 homes. Last year, it repaired 15 homes.

"It’s getting more expensive to rebuild homes," Green said, "and right now, we’re taking in the same amount of money we were four years ago."

The organization asks sponsors to donate between $2,000 and $10,000 to the organization.

"The more money we get, the more people we can help," Green said.

A typical project takes about 15 to 20 people.

"Last year, we had nine people on a project," Green said.

The group meets at George Washington University, off Route 7 in Sterling, once a month from May through January. The group meets twice or more a month in February, March and April.

The projects kick off the last week in April and a project typically takes one to three weeks to complete, depending on the size of the job, Green said.

Even though Green has a full-time job, he continues to volunteer with the local organization because of the satisfaction he gets every year, after he completes a project for someone else.

The chairman drives around in his pickup truck to different sites around the county the last Saturday in April. He said the looks on homeowners’ faces make all of the hard work worthwhile.

"I get chills up my spine just talking about it," he said.

The majority Rebuilding Together volunteers have full-time jobs.

"Anyone can do it," Green said, "and there are a lot of different ways to help."

For more information, call 703-771-7186. Allow 15 days for a response. Donations are tax deductible.