Rebuilding Together breathes new life into homes

By: Sherri Kolade | Farmington Press | Published April 27, 2015

FARMINGTON HILLS — Christina Tudor lives by the scribbled words posted on her refrigerator.


“‘Every day is a good day,’” she said, repeating the mantra in her kitchen in the 28000 block of Grayfield on April 25.


“That is a reminder to me,” the 38-year-old wife and mother of three said. “I have my bad days. Don’t make me cry.”


Tudor was close to shedding tears because seeing her 2-year-old son, Maxwell, who has cystic fibrosis, in pain is not easy.


“It is so hard to see this, what your baby goes through,” she said, pointing to a tack board filled with her son’s emergency contact numbers, daily activities, medical procedures and more.  


Cystic fibrosis is a genetic disease that causes fatal and chronic lung infections, and also interferes with digestion. There is no cure, and life expectancy is in the mid-30s for the 30,000 people living with cystic fibrosis in the United States.


Things got a little easier for Tudor and her husband, Jason, 38, with the help of about 60 volunteers that day through the national nonprofit Rebuilding Together.


For National Rebuilding Day on April 25, the 2,800-square-foot home was updated and renovated with a safer deck, some floor replacements, fresh coats of paint upstairs, carpeting on the stairs, and a more hypoallergenic room for Maxwell.


“I only put a couple little things on my list,” Christina Tudor said of the Rebuilding Together application that she wrote last year. “I just wanted Max’s ... room to be done. That was my biggest deal. He needs the carpet ripped up, and he needed the (low volatile organic compound) paint in his room, and that was so he could breathe better. We want to keep him out of the hospital and (keep) his lungs as healthy as possible.”


Rebuilding Together has assisted approximately 100,000 homes across the nation over 20 years, transforming and repairing homes for people in need.


Last year, more than 1,000 volunteers came out during Rebuilding Together Oakland County’s annual Rebuild Day on April 25, which repaired 46 homes.


Gail Frazee, president of RTOC, said the group is one of 176 affiliates around the country.


“This month, we’re all doing the same thing: trying to make a safe and healthy home for low-income homeowners,” Frazee said. “Many of our clients are elderly, so we try to make the home safe for them. Where they have big shag rugs, we put in laminate flooring, widen doorways and (put in ramps).”


The repairs are at no cost to the homeowner. Faith-based organizations, businesses and municipalities sponsor the homes.


“Our goal is to help homeowners who are paying their taxes, have insurance, have a mortgage (to) stay in their homes and remain there,” he added.


In 11 years, RTOC has fixed up 110 homes, and the group plans to complete seven in Farmington and Farmington Hills in late April and early May.


Through RTOC, about 2,500 local volunteers added $822,000 of market value to the Farmington-Farmington Hills area, Frazee said.


“We’ve got some great teams working,” he added.


Matt Cooley, RTOC house captain, said that day that although his team put in 400 hours to improve the Tudor home, he feels like there is always more to do.


“I wish we could do this to everybody’s house,” Cooley said. “We only have so much time.”


Faith Covenant Church, 35415 W. 14 Mile Road, of which Cooley is a member, has volunteered on RTOC projects for the past 12 years.


He added that it feels good to see the finished product when the last coat of paint goes up and the tools are put down.


“I get to see the whole story,” he said. “Being able to see the before and after is really nice.”


On that brisk morning, as Christina Tudor sat in her living room with a cup of coffee in hand, surrounded by her children’s toys and games, she and her husband remarked on how fortunate they are. The sound of hammers, drills and conversation buzzed in the background.


“Everything they are doing is just an absolute godsend,” Jason Tudor said.


“He is in shock,” Christina Tudor said of her husband.


“I’ve never been good at accepting generosity,” he added. “Seeing everyone chip in and help out is absolutely amazing and mind-blowing.”


For more information on volunteering or qualifiying for RTOC, visit www.rebuildingtogether-oaklandcounty.org.