Volunteers bag up yard waste last year during the event.

Volunteers bag up yard waste last year during the event.

File photo by Donna Dalziel


Wanted: Low-income people needing home improvements

By: Kayla Dimick | Southfield Sun | Published February 20, 2019

 Homeowner Geraldine Link and volunteer Larry Cadotte, of White Lake, pose in Link’s freshly painted kitchen during Rebuilding Together Oakland County’s Rebuild Day last year.

Homeowner Geraldine Link and volunteer Larry Cadotte, of White Lake, pose in Link’s freshly painted kitchen during Rebuilding Together Oakland County’s Rebuild Day last year.

File photo by Donna Dalziel

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METRO DETROIT — Volunteers from Rebuilding Together Oakland County are on the hunt for Southfield and Farmington Hills residents to receive no-cost home improvements. 

The group’s biggest event of the year, National Rebuild Day, is coming up April 27, and organizers said they are looking for income-eligible homeowners in need of safety repairs to their home. 

The organization, a nonprofit providing free home repairs to Oakland County residents, is one of 150 affiliates of the national Rebuilding Together organization. 

Outreach Coordinator Ryan Haas said the organization also serves veterans, disabled people and elderly residents in need of assistance. 

In addition to serving Oakland County, the organization serves the Jefferson-Chalmers neighborhood in Detroit. 

Projects will depend on what the home needs, Haas said, but there are a few requirements to qualify to receive the repairs. 

Haas said applicants must own their home, be up to date on their mortgage taxes, have proper insurance and be considered low income in order to be eligible for the program.
“It kind of depends on the home, but we focus on safety and health of the home. We’re looking for things like old carpeting that needs to be replaced, windows that have bad seals and old furnaces,” Haas said. “A popular one people request are roofs, but we don’t do a lot of those because they’re more expensive.” 

Volunteers go off a checklist of 25 health and safety priorities in the home, as well as things that can improve the health and safety of the homeowner. 

“Homeowners are always really grateful to be selected. It’s something that can change somebody’s life,” Haas said. “The whole point of this is that they can’t do this on their own, and these are things they actually need to make their day-to-day lives better.” 

Farmington Hills resident Monique Conrad said being selected for the program in fall 2018 changed her life. 

“The roof hadn’t been maintained in, like, 15 years, and from the constant weight of snow and ice, at 4 a.m. it completely fell through and smashed my couch. There was wood everywhere, and you could see the sky,” Conrad said. 

Along with the roof, volunteers also installed a new shed, landscaped the yard, installed new exterior doors, restored and stained the deck, took down the pool and installed a brand-new kitchen. 

Due to her family’s dietary restrictions, Conrad said, she spends a lot of time in the kitchen, and she had been experiencing a lot of issues with hers. 

“I said if I could have anything, I would have my dream kitchen,” she said. “I couldn’t put silverware in the drawer. I had it cute and everything — I put it in jars in a nice little basket, but I thought it would be nice if somebody could repair some of the drawers,” she said. “They completely, 100 percent gutted my kitchen and gave me the kitchen of my dreams.” 

Conrad said it touched her heart to see so many people coming together for a common cause. 

“I’m not an average person in a sense that I’ve been through a lot in my life. I’ve conquered and been through many tragic things, and (this program) changed me in a way,” she said. “It helped me see there is still so much good in the world, and people still do things that are almost unheard of.” 

Haas said entire neighborhoods also can benefit from the program. 

“It helps to have all the homes in a neighborhood looking better. We do a lot of landscaping on Rebuild Day, and it helps beautify things.”

In addition to applicants, Haas said the organization is looking for volunteer teams and no experience is necessary. 

“It was life-changing for me. It was all volunteers, and I got more out of it than you know. They were very kind. They were very friendly, and they were very real,” Conrad said.

To apply for repairs or to apply to volunteer, visit rebuildingtogethersem.org or call (248) 482-8061.

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