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Rebulding Together

Rebuilding Together OKC’s mission: Repairing homes, revitalizing communities, rebuilding lives

For 30 years , Rebuilding Together Oklahoma City has been guided by their vision to “create safe homes and communities for everyone.” They do this primarily by helping older adult homeowners maintain, repair and modify their homes so that they can continue to live there.

“Older adults are our central focus,” said Lauren Sullivan, Rebuilding Together OKC’s executive director. “Nearly 80% of older adults would prefer to stay in their homes, and so we are just here to help them age in place in a safe and healthy way.”

Rebuilding Together OKC is a nonprofit that works year-round making safe and healthy modifications to homes, five and sometimes six days a week. Sullivan says that the all-volunteer ramp team builds ramps every Thursday and, “in the last year alone, we built 33 ramps, with some ramps taking more than two days.” She says ramps currently  cost about $100 a square foot as a result of pandemic-related impacts to the construction industry, and the overall cost of a ramp has jumped from about $1500 in summer 2020 to a current expense of $2000 to $3000 per project.

The organization’s services became critically important when the pandemic hit. “For those we serve, we didn’t have an option. We had to keep on going,” Sullivan said. “Many of the homeowners we serve became then, if they weren’t already, the primary caregivers to their grandchildren and great grandchildren, so the need to make sure that their homes were safe, warm and dry was more important than ever.” Sullivan said that clients’ needs included reliable heat and air, running water, safe ingress and egress, CO2 detectors and fire extinguishers. 

On April 30, the nonprofit will hold their annual Rebuilding Day, the event that started it all for the group back in 1992.

“April is National Rebuilding Month, so for the entire month, we focus on our mission and make sure people hear about what we do,” Sullivan said. Another annual event is SheBuilds, typically held in the fall, which focuses on helping women-owned homes. “Rebuilding Together is starting its 30th year and the impact is amazing every day,” Sullivan said.

Homeowner Stories (provided by RTOKC)

Ms. Opal Childs received services when she was 98 years old and had been living alone in her home for 45 years. The exterior of her home needed painting and siding repair, as there were vines growing through the siding. There was hail damage and the roof was leaking in the kitchen. In addition to those repairs, RTOKC helped with a ramp and handrail.   

Mr. Joe Placker, 62, received a bathroom remodel that included a walk-in shower, shower bench, ADA toilet, handheld shower and grab bars. A handrail and ramp were added along with smoke detectors.

Ms. Azella Holt, 88, had her mailbox relocated since she loves to check her mail. RTOKC also completed a bathroom remodel, did interior painting, plumbing, added a ramp and other safety modifications. 

How To Get Involved

 

There are many ways to help. One of the main needs for Rebuilding Together OKC right now is volunteers, Sullivan said. The pandemic forced many volunteer groups and individuals to stop serving because of limitations placed by their group facilitators or their employers, even with RTOKC having a wellness policy in place. Sullivan wants volunteers to know that RTOKC has an immediate need for help, and that there is a role for everyone. Groups are also encouraged to participate. 

When volunteers contact RTOKC, they are matched with tasks based on their skill sets. There are jobs available for all levels of construction skill and ability..

Items You Can Donate

  Donations are also welcome, both monetary and in-kind. While “not a store,” Sullivan explains, they can accept materials such as paint brushes, masks, fire extinguishers and more. If someone wants to donate an appliance, such as a refrigerator, Rebuilding Together OKC would work to place that item in a home that needs it.  

Rebuilding Together OKC shares that $20 buys a smoke detector, $30 a carbon monoxide detector, $40 a fire extinguisher and $50 gets visible house numbers that can easily be seen. These values go on from $100 for grab bars up to $10,000 for a roof.

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