During a 2015 Rebuild Day, Abigail Carpenter, of Farmington Hills, and Celia Mendoza, of Farmington Hills, carry donations for Foster Closet of Michigan in Farmington Hills.

During a 2015 Rebuild Day, Abigail Carpenter, of Farmington Hills, and Celia Mendoza, of Farmington Hills, carry donations for Foster Closet of Michigan in Farmington Hills.

File photo by Donna Dalziel

Rebuilding Together event helps residents in Farmington Hills and beyond

By: Sherri Kolade | Farmington Press | Published May 8, 2018

 Pat Imus, of Waterford, participates in the 2015 Rebuild Day in Farmington Hills.

Pat Imus, of Waterford, participates in the 2015 Rebuild Day in Farmington Hills.

File photo by Donna Dalziel


FARMINGTON HILLS  — Rebuilding Together Southeast Michigan helped improve the quality of life for several families in Farmington Hills April 28.

During the all-day annual event, volunteers from local religious organizations and businesses joined forces and fixed up five homes in the city that otherwise would be in disrepair.

Louise Beller, vice president of the Rebuilding Together Southeast Michigan board of directors, said in an email that the group worked to support low-income homeowners with home repairs and maintenance “in order to create a safe and healthy home environment.” 

Halie Black, executive director of Rebuilding Together Southeast Michigan, said that while the organization has a far-ranging impact, there are still some introductions that need to be made. 

“We aren’t very well-known,” she said of the Farmington Hills-based organization, adding that the day was still a success. “This is our 26th year. … Rebuild was a big day for us.”

Rebuilding Together has 144 affiliates across the country, and Rebuilding Together Southeast Michigan is one of them. More than 1,500 homes in Oakland County were repaired, including the five local homes, this year.

Black said that a Farmington/Farmington Hills-based steering committee reviews housing applications from homeowners requesting repairs, and they select eligible individuals who are current on their taxes, homeowners insurance, mortgage and more. 

Preference is given to homeowners with children, homeowners with disabilities, and ones who are seniors or veterans.

She added that the local branch has partnerships with the city of Farmington Hills, which helps with funding.

Charmaine Kettler-Schmult, community development coordinator for the city of Farmington Hills, said in an email that it’s been a great partnership with Rebuilding Together. 

“Their organization leverages community volunteers to assist residents with home projects and cleanup,” she said. “I would encourage everyone to participate with Rebuilding Together.”

Black said that Kettler-Schmult helps the organization with funding and homeowner referrals.

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

The five local projects were completed by five volunteer organizations in Farmington and Farmington Hills: Orchard United Methodist Church, First Presbyterian Church of Farmington, St. Fabian Catholic Church-Farmington Hills, Faith Covenant Church and LOC Federal Credit Union. 

The average budget is $3,500 per project, not including sweat equity. 

An average volunteer team consists of about 30 people, depending on what the homeowners need.

“If they are doing a lot of exterior work, there is room for a lot more people,” Black said, adding that if they are doing an interior painting job, then fewer people are required. “Depends on scope.”

Tom Neal, a captain who organized work in one of the homes and who attends First Presbyterian Church of Farmington, sent a report on what his team did, which involved three groups helping fix a home on Sedalia Avenue in southeast Farmington Hills. They helped refurbish a bathroom, replace a wood fence, spruce up a shed and redo the landscaping. 

There were over 25 people from First Presbyterian Church of Farmington, First Presbyterian Church of Northville and the Muslim community, he said. The homeowner reportedly said that the volunteers could not fully understand how much this has meant to the homeowner.

“(Rebuilding Together) is a program that brings together faith-based groups in our community to help some homeowners in need,” Neal said. “It makes everyone pitch in together with the homeowners. Everyone wins.”

Black said the homeowners’ responses are positive and that they are grateful for the volunteers’ generous donation of their time.

“(They are) usually overwhelmed … by having a team of 30 strangers in eight hours fix up (their) home in a way they aren’t able to,” she said.

Black said that team captains are typically on the property two to three days beforehand to purchase materials, plan the day and help homeowners prepare for the volunteers.

Black said the organization’s mission, in addition to repairing homes, is revitalizing communities and rebuilding lives, with a vision of safe homes and communities for everyone.

“We were founded as an affiliate in Oakland County in 1992 and have served 1,090 homeowners since (our) inception. This year we changed our name to Rebuilding Together Southeast Michigan (from Rebuilding Together Oakland County) and are planning our first pilot project in Detroit, in the Jefferson-Chalmers neighborhood,” she said.

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

Rebuilding Together Southeast Michigan receives anywhere from 80 to 100 applications per year, and about half of the homes are selected. 

For more information on volunteering or qualifying for the program, visit www.rebuildingtogether-oaklandcounty.org.