ENGLEWOOD — Thousands of volunteers will be out in force Saturday morning to help distressed homeowners in West Englewood and Chicago Heights as part of National Rebuilding Day, an initiative that helps low-income property owners in underserved communities.
Rebuilding Together Chicago, an affiliate of Rebuilding Together, Inc., will be sending 3,000 volunteers to the two communities to provide repairs to 76 homes, ranging from plumbing repairs to electrical rewiring. Work will start at 8 a.m. and continue until 4 p.m.
Volunteers will meet at the IBEW Local 134 Community Center, 2722 S. Martin Luther King, Jr Drive, before being bused to their assignments.
“The volunteers will be coming from different companies, associations, churches, clubs that are all working together to make repairs to homes to which they been assigned,” said CEO Wanda Ramirez. “We do this every year. Our goal is to make every home warm, safe and dry.”
Volunteers will also come from skilled labor unions, a boost for homes in need of carpentry work.
Now in its 28th year, the organization has repaired 1,800 homes and 275 social service organizations across the city and suburbs. This year, they’re teaming up with several sponsors, including Republic Services, a waste management firm.
Each year, Rebuilding Together Chicago chooses two locations— one in the city, another in the suburbs — to help. The communites’ median income is lower than the rest of the communities they work in. They also look for areas with larger concentrations of homeowners than renters.
“All of the homeowners we work with and have selected qualify for the program because they live in the communities we selected and they’re low-income,” said Ramirez. “And all of them live in the homes they own.”
A significant number of the homeowners they help are senior citizens who lack the resources to hire contractors. What may start out as a minor repair turns into a major one, which can impact their quality of life.
One of the residents they’re helping Saturday, Emma Neely, is an 80-year-old widow who has lived in her home for decades with her cat, Neely. Volunteers will be fixing her leaking toilet, installing a tub bench, replacing the bathroom vanity, replacing the kitchen stove and removing the carpet from her hallway and stairs.
Rebuilding Together Chicago charges sponsorship fees to cover the cost of materials, volunteers and logistical expenses. They also receive funding from several sources, including the City of Chicago, Cook County and underwriters. Republic Services Foundation is one of two this year.
“It’s a special day for us. It represents a significant investment in the community, to the families and residents of West Englewood, and the surrounding communities,” said Republic Services General Manager Calvin Boonstra. “We’re honored by the opportunity to support our friends over at Rebuilding Chicago, and to offer our products and services to the community.”
Each year, Rebuilding Together and its affiliates complete 1,500 projects across the country on National Rebuilding Day, and 100,000 throughout the year.
The organization still has room for a few more volunteers for Saturday. Call 312-201-1188, or visit www.rebuildingtogether-chi.com for more information.