Church members lend a hand to help rebuild Oakland County

St. Luke’s volunteers help repair one of 50 homes during ‘Rebuild Day’

By: Mary Beth Almond | Rochester Post | Published May 23, 2012

 St. Luke’s United Methodist Church youth member Tara Stewart patches the living room wall of a home in Pontiac in preparation for a fresh coat of paint during Rebuild Day April 28.

St. Luke’s United Methodist Church youth member Tara Stewart patches the living room wall of a home in Pontiac in preparation for a fresh coat of paint during Rebuild Day April 28.

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ROCHESTER HILLS — Approximately 20 people from St. Luke’s United Methodist Church in Rochester Hills helped forever change the life of a Pontiac family by volunteering their time during a recent Rebuild Day.

The team was among a group of more than 1,400 volunteers organized by Rebuilding Together Oakland County to participate in the nonprofit’s annual Rebuild Day April 28, which treated 50 homes in 11 Oakland County communities to some upgrades.

Rebuilding Together is a national nonprofit organization that provides critical home repairs, modifications and improvements for low-income homeowners. The Oakland County branch was founded in 1992 and has since worked on 584 homes in 23 communities.

Dressed in work clothes, with tools in hand, the team from St. Luke’s spent the entire day April 28 repairing a home near Telegraph Road in Pontiac.

St. Luke’s member Peter Sherrick, of Orion Township, who coordinated the project this year, said the group worked on the inside and outside of the home from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m.

“The houses were very nice, it’s just that the people couldn’t maintain it at the level that they wanted,” he said. “The front cement steps had fallen in, so that was fixed. The front porch needed to be painted. The face boards needed to be repaired. We put a light in the porch area that had sensors in it, and the back of the house had a porch area that needed new steps, so we took the old steps out and put in new steps. … The yard had a bunch of overgrowth that needed to be trimmed back and moved out to the curb so that it could be picked up, so we did that, too.”

Sherrick said the youth were heavily supervised and given specific jobs to keep them busy and teach them various repair skills.

“For instance, the repair work that we did in the front was a cement step rebuild. … We had them help mix cement, we had them help do the painting, and they helped repair the boards,” he said.

Inside, the team handled everything from removing wallpaper and painting walls to repairing various items in the kitchen and bathroom.

“The kitchen had cupboards that were falling down, so we repaired them and put them back up. The upstairs bathroom had a tub that was leaking around the edges, so we repaired that whole area and put tile around it. The toilet needed a new mechanism upstairs, so we fixed that,” Sherrick said.

This is the third year church volunteers have participated in Rebuild Day, and Sherrick said it’s an activity that the church plans to continue with in the future.

“Our experience is very positive, and we’re going to stay involved with them. We enjoy the program,” he said. “It makes us feel good, obviously, helping the underprivileged in the community.”

The opportunity also allowed church leaders to train the youth of St. Luke’s in preparation for their upcoming mission trip, the Appalachian Service Project, this summer. St. Luke’s Appalachian Service Project work teams travel to central Appalachia for a week, making repairs on an assigned house in the community during the day and worshiping together at night.

Sherrick said the youth learned a variety of repair skills and how to work together in a group during Rebuild Day.

“It’s a lot of handi-skills that we can build on in the summertime, because those are the kinds of projects that we do with the Appalachian Service Project. And it’s different work each year — it’s never the same. Last year, the house that we worked on had different issues, so we get a really nice cross section of work that we can use to help educate the children of our church with,” he said.

Rebuilding Together Oakland County President Jerry McKay said the organization depends on volunteers like St. Luke’s team to help them make a difference in the lives of others.

“We really appreciate their help. They’ve been a great church and a great team,” he said.

Although Rebuild Day is over, McKay said the nonprofit continues to work on a variety of projects throughout the year.

“We really depend on volunteers because we have to buy the materials, or get the materials donated, so without teams of volunteers … we can’t do as much for as many homeowners,” he said.

The organization is currently searching for volunteers ages 12 and older, who can apply to help out on the nonprofit’s website. For more information about Rebuilding Together Oakland County, to apply to have your house fixed, or to volunteer, call (248) 889-5450 or visit www.rebuildingtogether-oaklandcounty.org.

For more information, visit www.stlukesrochester.org.

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