Column: Helping the Helper

Column: Helping the Helper

— George is many things … an Alexandria resident, a Norwegian, woodworker, boat watcher, singer and helper. He’s a long way from his native Norway, which is why he was attracted to living in Alexandria.

Growing up, his dad was a waiter and chef in Scandinavia and would go to the palace when the King had a party. On those nights, George and his grandmother would watch the boats arrive at the palace through their front window. So when he arrived in the D.C. metro area half a century ago, he picked Alexandria as his new home due to the impressive river views.

He bought a townhouse that was completely disheveled and falling apart in a “neighborhood that was a wreck.” But the house was affordable and a perfect location with fun and exciting things to do in all directions. Over the years, he fixed up his house, put a fence up for his dog, and watched a struggling neighborhood grow into a community.

By nature, George is also a man who helps people. It’s in his soul. When he first moved here, he volunteered by driving people to and from their doctor appointments and other necessary visits. He also went door to door as a city volunteer to help homeowners deal with complaints. During one of these stops, he befriended an elderly Norwegian woman whom he visited every day and connected her with services she needed until she passed away at age 100.

Last year, George ended up needing help. He had a stroke and does not remember the first month afterwards. He has had to relearn how to walk and speak English. He remains positive and has been working hard to regain his health. He no longer uses a cane, attends therapy to improve his speech and memory, and hopes to be able to drive again one day.

Unfortunately, during this time, he has been unable to tend to his home. That’s why he reached out to Rebuilding Together Alexandria, a volunteer-based nonprofit working to revitalize the community by providing free home repairs. Since then, our volunteers have provided a variety of repairs and upgrades to make his home a safer and healthier place.

George is grateful for the help as he works to get healthy. But the helper really wants to be back helping, and he looks forward to resuming his hobbies and volunteering which have made him an important part of Alexandria’s rich history and growth.

If you would like to volunteer, donate, or need repairs, visit or call 703-836-1021.

Katharine Dixon is President & CEO of Rebuilding Together Alexandria.