"There's A Lot of History In This Place...And A Lot Of Love"
By Cynthia Vora
Rebuilding Together Houston
At 90 years old, Ms. Margaret has many stories to tell. A great deal of those stories, taking place in the home she lived for 53 years. She recalls the moment she discovered the property as a day of pride and joy. Having 9 children, she worked hard to keep the full house in order while her husband was away at work. All their children, and dozens of great grandchildren, were raised in this home. It’s where family gathered and where many holidays celebrations took place. Memories of children’s laughter and the smell of home cooked meals were the epitome of home sweet home for Ms. Margaret.
"There's a lot of history in this place," says Margaret's daughter, Clara, of the home in which her parents raised nine children. "And a lot of love."
This home her family worked so hard to maintain, she eventually had to give up. Now confined to a wheelchair, the home is no longer equipped to meet her needs. Ms. Margaret had both her legs amputated around 10 years ago due to diabetes. Only having her children now, as her husband passed away last year, two of her daughters care for her and attend to all her needs. She’s now staying in an addition to her property that her husband built before he passed. The inside has little room for Ms. Margaret’s bedroom and is located upstairs, but with a small concrete slope leading up to the house’s front doors the building is easier to access. In order to get to the second floor bedroom, Ms. Margaret’s daughter had to take out a loan to pay for a chair lift. Although this helped for mobility, the space offered very little for Ms. Margaret to live.
With the help of Rebuilding Together Houston, dozens of volunteers came together to help put Ms. Margaret back into the home she loved so much. During the Rebuilding Northside Together Event, a 10 home project focused on revitalizing the neighborhood, a specialty volunteer crew built a brand new wheelchair ramp right up to the front door. Rebuilding Together Houston also had contractors install a low curb shower in the bathroom. These major modifications were just the start to give Ms. Margaret the ability to once again enjoy her home. Volunteers from the offices of Senator Garcia and Councilman Ed Gonzalez renovated the exterior that had gone untouched for quite some time. From repairing old siding, to a new paint job on the entire house, volunteers worked hard to transform the house back into a home. After hours of labor from passionate and dedicated individuals, Ms. Margaret can now start the transition back into her home.
“I’m glad we can get her back into her house.” says Clara. “We can have a new beginning in the place where our family grew up. Even though the house is older, it is more secure now. It’s such a big difference. It’s livable.”
National Rebuilding Month Project Profile: Rebuilding Together Houston
By Cynthia Vora
Rebuilding Together Houston
There truly is no place like home. For Mildred, this sentiment resonates as dozens of volunteers worked to breathe new life into her home. It’s been 44 years since Mildred first moved into her house in Houston from Bryan, Texas. It’s a place filled with love, happiness, and memories of her five children and late husband. She lost her husband in 1996 after he fell ill and became disabled. It was at that time she faced the many struggles in the upkeep of her home. She worked to do what she could to take care of it, but eventually she needed help.
Now, as volunteers with Rebuilding Together Houston gathered their tools and rolled up their sleeves, Mildred finally received the helping hand she needed. Volunteers with The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston performed exterior home repairs on March 29 and continued into April. Volunteers worked to make a safer home for Mildred by replacing siding, installing a new side door and storm door, replacing window panes and screens, repairing rotten wood, and scraping and painting the whole house. The crew also reestablished flower gardens, cleaned up potted plants, cut down dead tree limbs, and even painted the shed for a nice touch to match the house.
The volunteer group from The University of Texas Health Science Center call themselves the UT House Medics. They are a longtime supporter of Rebuilding Together Houston and have been providing volunteer crews since the early 1990s. Since then, they’ve repaired more than 70 homes and they don’t intend on stopping anytime soon.
“Without Rebuilding Together Houston I am a fish out of water!” says the group’s Crew Leader, Dennie Clemons. “We touch lives in so many different ways. We heal the hearts of many. Our volunteers love our homeowners and our homeowners love us.”
The feeling is definitely mutual for Mildred. Since the day the volunteers first showed up to visit, she couldn’t stop praising their efforts saying, “I’m enjoying them so much. It is truly an experience. Every little thing I’ve ever gotten I’ve had to try and pay for it a little at a time. I’m so grateful to be getting this. I’m so thankful.”
This project was part of National Rebuilding Month, a nationwide call to provide safe and healthy homes for America’s low-income homeowners and families at no cost to the recipients across the country during the month of April leading up to National Rebuilding Day on April 26, an annual culmination of the month’s events. Last year across the country, more than 50,000 volunteers served at over 3,000 affiliate-led rebuild projects during the month of April. National Rebuilding Month is embraced by community leaders and national corporate partners as a way of bringing immediate, large-scale impact to communities across America in a single month.