More than one hundred volunteers worked through the rainy, overcast morning on Saturday to repair local homes through Rebuilding Together LaPorte County (RTLC).
Rebuilding Together is a national organization that helps veterans, low-income homeowners, and senior citizens by making repairs their homes in order to make their living conditions safer and more comfortable. RTLC’s efforts are year-round, but volunteers come together one day per year that is designated as a Rebuilding Day.
“We have small teams perform minor repair and construction projects one day per year around town,” said Ted Taylor, RTLC board member and General Insurance Services (GIS) CPCU and team leader. “It is good hands-on work that provides a lot of satisfaction to the team and a nice, quick, tangible improvement for the homeowner.”
Homeowners applied for the free repairs last year, and, thanks to a long list of corporate donors, RTLC, with the combined efforts of LaPorte and Michigan City volunteers, repaired 12 homes with various levels of work needed on its fourth annual Rebuilding Day. The LaPorte volunteers met at the local high school for check-in and breakfast before they headed to their respective houses.
American Licorice, one of the event’s corporate donors, sent a crew of volunteers to a house to help with the roof, front steps, and debris cleanup, among other tasks.
“I’m always really happy to give back to the community,” said American Licorice team leader, economist, and CSR manager Steve Walters. “We’ve made it the purpose of the company to invest in the happiness of the community and the people, so this aligns with that company purpose.”
Though some of the tasks may have seemed grueling, you would not have known it by the smiles on the volunteers’ faces. They enjoyed helping the residents improve their home and make it a memorable day.’
“It’s a great organization, and I think they’re doing amazing things for the community,” Walters said. “Going to people’s houses that they may not have the ability or economic means to fix up… it’s awesome.”
Horizon Bank also sponsored a house. A group of their volunteers helped a widowed woman who had a damaged roof, time-weathered siding and deck, and other issues she had not had the financial means to fix herself.
“It’s very rewarding,” said Lydia Post, RTLC treasurer, as well as Horizon Bank team leader and business banker. “All the homeowners are very appreciative, and it’s amazing to see the emotion when you see how appreciative they are and how they never could’ve done it on their own. It’s one day out of the whole year, and it’s a huge impact.”
In addition to basic paint jobs and yard work, some houses needed electrical work and carpentry help. Skilled contractors, painters, carpenters, and electricians volunteered their Saturday, and students from LPHS’s Building Trades even offered their time and efforts.
“Your projects may be big; they may be small,” Rev. Dennis Meyer reminded everyone in a prayer during check-in. “But remember, you’re really making a difference in the lives of the people who can’t do some of these things.”
In addition to the prayer, Meyer told a story he remembered about being approached in a restaurant by one of the homeowners RTLC had helped in the past. As tears formed in her eyes, she hugged him and thanked him for his help.
“Thank you so much for what you do," he recalled her saying. "I wasn’t able to afford to replace the roof on my house, and now I can stay here and I don’t have to give it up.”
In one single day, the hard work and combined community efforts of companies and individuals alike created a dozen safer, more accessible homes for LaPorte County residents. Meyer summed up the idea nicely as he concluded his prayer.
“The idea is to improve our cities, make our neighborhoods stronger, and make this a place where everybody supports one another,” he said.
The following companies are Rebuilding Together 2018 sponsors: American Licorice, Horizon Bank, General Insurance Services, The Bethany Foundation, Wana Pizza, La Porte Catholic Church, Dunkin Donuts, Rother’s Pub, Kabelin Ace, NIPSCO, Arby’s, MTM Realty Group, Renolit, IKORCC, The City of La Porte, La Porte Urban Enterprise Association, IBEW Local 531, La Porte-Starke-Pulaski Building & Construction Trades Council, Meridian Title, CJ’s Roofing, Zack’s Tree Service, Cox Roofing, Stephani Electric, and Chad Querry Painting LLC.
For more information, visit Rebuilding Together’s website at http://rebuildingtogetherlaporte.com/ and Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/rebuildingtogetherlaporte.