Alexandria Column: Making Lemonade

Alexandria Column: Making Lemonade

Commentary–Rebuilding Together Alexandria

With a homemade lemonade stand adorning the front yard and the basement playroom walls painted with green rolling hills and blue skies, it is evident that Ariel wants her three young children to grow up having a memorable and safe childhood. Ariel purchased the home she grew up in from her parents in 2014, when her parents moved only half a block away.


Volunteers install a drain in the backyard to keep it dry.

Ariel loves the Alexandria area and hopes to stay here for as long as possible. She feels safe in her neighborhood close to Holmes Run, “A lot of people here are community oriented.” During the snow storm in January, Ariel’s neighbors helped dig out her parent’s home. She is also active in the community, attending farmers markets and enhancing play spaces for her children and the community.

That’s the dream for many Americans: to improve their lives through homeownership. We celebrate homeownership every June during National Homeownership Month. That’s because owning a home is an investment, with homeowners accumulating significantly more net household wealth than renters, according to the National Association of Realtors.

But it’s so much more. Fewer moves mean kids can go to the same schools, grow friendships, and participate in local activities. It also means knowing neighbors’ names, block parties, shared memories, and neighbors helping neighbors. Nothing stabilizes a community more than being invested in a home and the lives of those around you.

Here in Alexandria about half of our residents are homeowners. Not all of these homeowners can maintain their homes as well as they’d like, so at Rebuilding Together Alexandria, we focus on helping our city’s struggling homeowners by providing free home repairs. That’s how we met Ariel.

During a recent service appointment for the heating system, Ariel’s furnace was “red tagged” and considered inoperable. Not sure where to turn on a tight budget, Ariel remembered a pamphlet she had picked up about Rebuilding Together. We replaced her furnace within days. Since then, a team of volunteers replaced an old CO2/smoke alarm, installed a GFCI outlet in the kitchen, reaffixed an outside railing, installed a French drain in the backyard to keep it dry, and fixed a bathroom door threshold.

For Rebuilding Together Alexandria, we are proud supporters of homeownership year round because creating a vibrant community where people of all income groups and cultures live in safe and healthy homes is the ultimate benefit of homeownership. If you know someone like Ariel who could benefit from our services, we encourage you to introduce them to us. For more information, call 703-836-1021 or