Rebuilding Together Alexandria: Rebuilding All Year Long, But Particularly in April

Rebuilding Together Alexandria: Rebuilding All Year Long, But Particularly in April

Spectrum and Alexandria Police Department volunteers.

Spectrum and Alexandria Police Department volunteers.

Rebuilding Together Alexandria was once known for a one-day repair blitz on the last Saturday of every April, National Rebuilding Day. As our local and national Rebuilding Together efforts have grown over 32 years, we have become more than just a one day event: we upgrade over 110 homes and community spaces every year.

Our roots are still connected to the largest city-wide volunteer event day on April 28, when 700-plus worker-bees will be repairing homes and upgrading nonprofit facilities that serve vulnerable individuals and families.

Getting an early start, last weekend nearly 30 Spectrum and Alexandria Police Department volunteers provided free repairs to the homes of long-term friends and Hume Springs neighbors.

Volunteers focused on repairs that made the homes safer, healthier, and more energy-efficient for the elderly homeowners, including replacing windows and storm doors, installing efficient lighting, weatherizing, installing a new fence, installing handheld showerheads and grab bars, securing handrails and posts, and more. Volunteers also gave out 168 free Safe & Healthy Home kits that contained items to make one’s home safer and healthier.

One of the homeowners that was helped last week is Rosa. And though she welcomed the volunteer help on April 14, March 4 is still her favorite day of any year. That’s the day, back in 1970, when Rosa moved from Jamaica to the States, following many of her friends who had done so in the ’60s. First living in Fairfax, Rosa and her husband moved to northwest D.C. after he joined her here in 1976.

Once in D.C., Rosa started working at the Marriott on M Street NW in the kitchen and as a station attendant. Later she would become a supervisor for Marriott — a firm for whom she worked nearly 30 years. Shortly after moving to D.C., Rosa transferred to the Crystal City Marriott and with her husband, rented a home in Alexandria — one large enough to house three of their seven children who decided to join them from Jamaica.

On her way to work one morning, waiting at the bus stop, Rosa met a woman from Trinidad and struck up a conversation about apartment renting. The woman encouraged Rosa to look into buying a home, something Rosa and her husband thought would be out of their financial reach. With some work and discipline, Rosa and her family bought a home in Hume Springs in 1978 — and paid $248 a month for the mortgage. Though her husband passed away a few years ago, 84-year-old Rosa still lives in her two-story row home with her daughter and granddaughter, with help from Rebuilding Together to maintain it.

Rebuilding Together Alexandria is an award-winning, mission-driven organization that creates healthy neighborhoods for Alexandria residents by maintaining affordable housing for low-income homeowners, revitalizing community spaces, and creating homeownership opportunities. Since 1986, more than 27,000 volunteers have worked on 2,137 projects, leveraging $7.5 million worth of in-kind value to Alexandria. Rebuilding Together’s work contributes to helping the city remain economically, socially and culturally diverse.