Rebuilding Together East Bay-North (RTEBN) was featured in the March 2017 issue of Marketplace Contra Costa Magazine. Click on the image below to view the full size and read the article:
Our 2015-2016 clients are composting! Thanks to a generous grant from StopWaste.org, each homeowner received a new, lightweight compost container suitable for using on their countertops, along with individualized instructions on what can be composted.
These lightweight containers make it easier for our seniors to carry their compost to the greenwaste bins.
Thanks to a generous grant from StopWaste.org. Rebuilding Together East Bay-North has been able to provide our homeowners with shiny new counter-top compost containers! These new containers are light, and easy for our seniors to carry out to their greenwaste bins. And, StopWaste.org provided free training to our homeowners, showing them that even things like the wrapper on a stick of butter can be composted. Now our clients are experts at making the world a little greener.
20 Years of Service to Rebuilding Together East Bay-North
Laurie Harris, has been a volunteer with Rebuilding Together since the early 1990s. She co-captained a project in 2009 and has been a captain for many years since then. She has 28 years’ experience in masonry restoration and a certificate in Construction Management from UC Berkeley Extension. She is a Long time Berkeley resident and graduated from Berkeley High School. Of her volunteering with Rebuilding Together East Bay-North (RTEBN) she says: “I do enjoy the pandemonium of a large RTEBN project; it is never boring!” “And, going back to the very first time I volunteered, it is the profound expression of gratitude and happiness that this program brings to its recipients that keeps me coming back year after year!”
*Pictured: Homeowner Dorothy Smith and House Captain Laurie Harris at NRD 2015*
Thank you to all those participants who made this year’s National Rebuilding Month a success! We couldn’t have done it without your generosity and your willingness to give back to the community. We very much appreciate the assistance with improving the lives of local low-income seniors, veterans, and individuals with disabilities.
We completed a total of 19 projects during the month and accomplished tasks like debris removal, exterior and interior painting, hot water heater installation, working on decks and steps, and a seismic retrofit. This year in particular, we went above and beyond our usual scopes of work and dove into more intricate and laborious repairs and modifications. A special shout out to our skilled volunteers who allowed us to accomplish such tasks.
Words cannot express our sincerest gratitude for the donations, time, and dedication of all of our sponsors, donors, and volunteers as well as the staff who make this work possible. We enjoyed having you and hope to see you all again!
Executive Director, Marie Hubbard and long-time volunteer Michael McDowell got a spot on KPIX’s Bay Area Focus!…
Q: How did you get involved with Rebuilding Together East Bay-North?
Years ago I was having dinner with my family at the El Cerrito Plaza Chevy’s restaurant (I told you it was years ago!) and there was this rather animated and boisterous group at a table near us. They were all wearing “Christmas in April” t-shirts, were dirty, and happily talking about their project. It stuck with me and I kept coming back to that group of people who obviously were excited about their hard and dirty work! So, I researched what the program was all about and (it must have been around 2000) got a group of folks together to work on a project.
I work at UC Berkeley at the Miller Institute for Basic Research in Science. I thought it might be a good idea to get my young postdoctoral scientists out of their labs for a day and introduce them to community service. So, I think the first three times I organized groups it was with these Miller Postdoctoral Fellows.
In more recent years I have also organized teams of Returned Peace Corps Volunteers to participate. It has become an almost annual event on the NorCal Peace Corps Association calendar!
Q: What can you tell us about the last project you worked on?
This year we had a great project for our group. Our task was to clean out a back yard that had become overwhelmed by a lot of accumulated “stuff” that didn’t need to be there and a lot of overgrown vegetation. We came in like gang-busters and went to work. I wish we had taken before and after photos. We cleared. We pruned. We pulled weeds. We filled a dumpster! Hopefully we left the homeowners with a cleaned up yard that will allow them to enjoy the space and start some new projects of their own!
Q: In your experience, what’s the most rewarding part of volunteering with Rebuilding Together?
I really enjoy a day of hard physical work and the huge sense of accomplishment that comes once the job is done. I also like the camaraderie of working with a team. My postdoc teams are already connected through our Institute, but the Peace Corps teams often include volunteers who may or may not already know each other. The thing about Peace Corps volunteers though is that they have no problem jumping right in to join in a group to enjoy the shared experience – whatever it may be. And, they are not afraid of hard and dirty work!
Q: If you could pick one renovation skill to learn, what would it be and why?
Hmmmm, well, I’d hate to practice my limited skills on any of the homeowners associated with RTEBN! I can do some painting and I’m good at yard work, but I’m not sure I’m game to do much more critical renovation work for others. I’d be cautious of offering me a hammer.
Q: What would you say to someone who is thinking about volunteering, but hasn’t made the decision yet?
What’s stopping you? Alone you can easily find a willing group to welcome you into the fold. I’ve never seen a group turn down a willing volunteer!! Or, get a few friends together and find out just how much fun it is to work hard for a family really in need of the help!
You don’t need expert skills, just willing hands and able body. I always feel so virtuous after I’ve completed my annual work day with Rebuilding Together. And the aching muscles I always succeed in achieving help me feel virtuous for at least a day or two longer!
Many thanks to Kathy for her tireless support! If you’re interested in volunteering, you can sign up online by visiting our Volutneer Sign-up page.
Setsuko moved to the United States from Japan 42 years ago, when her daughter Noriko was 12. Setsuko suffers from severe dementia, and Noriko quite her job and moved from Oakland to be her full-time caretaker. Setsuko is unable to cook, bathe herself, or take care of other daily tasks, and the dementia occasionally prevents Setsuko from recognizing her daughter. Setsuko will need to begin using a wheelchair in the coming years, but for now she is still walking.
Setsuko’s husband was a talented carpenter, but the home–and the beautiful handmade shades in the front windows–is all that remains after his death many years ago. Together, the family of two has very little income, and what there is is spent almost immediately on food and other necessities. They were referred to Rebuilding Together East Bay-North by J-Sei, the Japanese Senior Citizen Center in Berkeley.
Together with our volunteers, RTEBN took on a number of projects for Setsuko, including replacing a broken window, installing smoke detectors, CO detectors, and an overflow for the hot water heater, removing debris, and repairing a rotted out handrailing. Thank you for helping improve Setsuko’s safety and quality of life!