Twenty five years ago, a small group of people started an organization with a simple mission: neighbors reaching out and creating pay-it-forward moments help keep residents in their homes. What started as a volunteer-driven day of service to repair 8 Chicago-area homes has turned into Rebuilding Together Metro Chicago, an affiliate of the nation’s largest organization working to preserve homeownership through health and safety-focused home repairs.
Rebuilding Together Metro Chicago’s work engages 3,500 volunteers every year to work on more than 100 repair projects for local residents in need. Since 1991, a total of 1,600 homes and 200 nonprofit centers have been repaired thanks to the work of tens of thousands of community volunteers. Key to this successful track record is an impressive set of partnerships with corporations, community organizations, other nonprofit service organizations, skilled trades unions, and local government.
What is it about the organization’s work that gets partners and their volunteers to return year after year? As RTMC board president and “40 under 40” 2015 class member Jill Deichmann says “Throughout the years, volunteering with Rebuilding Together Metro Chicago has given me a sense of compassion that I can share with others. The look of hope and joy in the homeowners’ eyes is what brings me back to the organization and my board commitment every year.”
Rebuilding Together Metro Chicago’s signature program is National Rebuilding Day, the culmination of a year of planning and preparation. Each year on the last Saturday in April, thousands of Chicago-area volunteers spend a day lending a helping hand to residents in need. Volunteer teams conduct basic repairs, paint, and landscape, while union plumbers, carpenters, and electricians lend their skills to more advanced issues. The result of National Rebuilding Day is a lasting impression and unique experience for volunteers and homeowners alike.
“This experience has inspired me to do more. I will pay it forward. I will reach out to neighbors known and unknown — to share a smile and lend a helping hand. The spirit of your time here will live on through our family.” – Mrs. Hamilton, 2015 National Rebuilding Day recipient
An evening in celebration Rebuilding Together Metro Chicago’s milestone anniversary is planned for September 15 at Garfield Park Conservatory. More information can be found at the http://www.rebuildingtogether-chi.com/events/ or by calling Tiffanie Tabrizi, Development Director, at 312-201-1188.