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Column: All in the Family

In 1957, William’s* parents gave each of their sons a plot of land on North Quaker Lane on which to build a home. "I think we only had $.25 but we got a house built somehow," remembers William’s widow, Arminta.

In the fields surrounding their new home, William would pull the neighborhood kids around on sleds by the tractor he owned at their previous home in Farmville, Va. The children would also "go across the way and sled on the hill and ice-skate on a nearby frozen pond." In the warm months, kids would play kick ball and jump rope together while neighborhood parents watched and caught up on each other’s lives.

For many years, the community would throw Halloween block parties — with bands and cookouts and dancing contests. All the neighbors enjoyed this tradition. "You didn’t have a lot of money and you didn’t have a lot of things, but you were happy," recalls Arminta.

William’s brothers and parents also lived in the same community and his mother was known as the "neighborhood mom." Arminta fondly remembers her mother-in-law often coming over to cook dinner for the family — cooking was not on Arminta’s list of "most favorite things to do," so after work she would come home and play with the children, clean up the house, and happily clean up dishes from a home-cooked meal made by her in-law.

Arminta, looking around her home, has "so many wonderful memories in this happy place" and Rebuilding Together Alexandria’s volunteers are happy to help maintain her home so she can safely live there with, building more memories.

Rebuilding Together Alexandria is an award-winning, non-profit organization dedicated to repairing and revitalizing homes at no charge for homeowners in need, including elderly, disabled, military veterans and families. To date, in-kind donations of labor and materials have resulted in $5.5 million worth of value on more than 1,430 properties. If you’d like to volunteer or donate, visit www.rebuildingtogetheralex.org or call 703-836-1021.

  • It is RTA’s organizational policy to not disclose full names

By Katharine Dixon

Executive Director Rebuilding Together Alexandria