News

Coming Out of Quarantine – It Just Needs Done

August 31, 2020

Some things in life just happen, and you don’t see them coming. You get blindsided. 

As with most of our new friends here at Rebuilding Together Muscatine County, these things happen, leaving people not knowing where to turn for help.

This is one such story.

This man’s beloved wife, although really quite young, had a stroke, and after going to the hospital for treatment, other complications arose, leaving her paralyzed from the waist down.

Their home was not at all accessible at all for their newfound reality.

Not knowing where to turn, he called his friend State Senator Mark Lofgren.

Mark has stood behind Rebuilding Together Muscatine County since it’s inception, and in turn gave him information on how to contact us.

Who told you about us?

So after the contacts were made, the planning began in earnest.

Frank took one of our volunteers with him to visit the home, to see what needed to be done.

Not able to use the front door due to accessibility issues, it was determined that the ramp would need to go around to the back.

In order to keep in line with state and city codes, ramps need a certain amount of “drop” for each foot that they are tall.

These numbers caused this to be the biggest ramp ever created by Rebuilding Together Muscatine County.

Let the games begin.

RTMC uses a ramp system that does not typically need concrete footings.

Our ramps are such that when they are no longer needed, they are disassembled, and put back in storage to be used on other projects when the need arises.

Due to the size of this project, footings were mandatory – Friday was spent placing holes for the footings

Getting things started.

Saturday morning dawned cool and bright. A perfect day for a ramp building.

After a good breakfast provided by a nearby church event, the volunteers were ready to get started.

Some of the volunteers had worked with us before and were well versed in what and how things needed to be done.

The ones who have never worked with us before came alongside and had a great learning experience.

This team was amazing; troopers all!

Progress.
Lunch Time!

Typically, our food and snacks are provided for us by the local Pizza Ranch.

But on this day … this day the family of the folks we were building the ramp for, decided to provide everything we needed.

Ice cold water, sandwiches, cold salads, chips, drinks, and amazing desserts!

What a treat to have these things available all day to our team of volunteers.

Team Work!
Our biggest ramp to date!

Of course, not all volunteers could stay all day, so they kind of came in shifts, each staying as long as they were able.

We believe that if everyone does their part, then the whole job gets done!

Shift change.

There is always more to do on a job this size.

Some who were unable to help physically, took up donations to give to RTMC.

We do not charge for our work, but we never say no to donations either! 

Always more to do!

At the end of the day, the entire ramp was installed.

Some volunteers will return next Saturday to install the handrails, and reinforcements underneath the structure.

Thank you to all who helped in ANY way!

We love helping our community, because “It Just Needs Done!”

What’s Happening Now?

July 15, 2020

While the world seems to have ground to a halt by COVID19, your Rebuilding Together, although not actively doing any projects, has not ceased in it’s behind the scenes work.
We are actively spreading the word about what we do, and are still seeking grants, donations, and other forms of backing. In this way, when the world opens back up again – We’ll be ready!
Here is the latest impact statement from our corporate office;
Survey Finds Rebuilding Together’s Repair Work Positively Impacts Low-Income Families
Data indicate improvements for service recipients in areas of safety, physical health, mental health, independence, economic security, and community connection

July 06, 2020

WASHINGTON, D.C., JULY 8, 2020 – Today, Rebuilding Together released the results of its pilot impact measurement survey designed to assess the effectiveness of the organization’s core practice model. Affiliates surveyed service recipients and conducted home assessments before and after repairs, using a checklist of 25 safe and healthy housing principles. The results indicate that work done by Rebuilding Together’s affiliates achieved positive outcomes across all categories included in the survey: safety, physical health, mental health, independence, economic security, and community connection.

Results from the survey included the following:

Seven in 10 neighbors who received repairs report low or no chance of falling.

Nearly two-thirds of neighbors who reported their health was less than good before repairs said their health improved after the repairs were completed.

Three in five neighbors who received repairs report feeling happier, and almost 90 percent of the most stressed respondents feel less stress about home repairs and maintenance after receiving repairs.

Nine in 10 neighbors who received repairs plan to age in place.

More than three-quarters of neighbors who received repairs plan to pass their properties down to family or friends.

Three in five neighbors who received repairs say their homes are now more valuable as an asset.

The full report can be viewed on Rebuilding Together’s website: https://rebuildingtogether.org/our-impact

“The results of Rebuilding Together’s impact measurement survey show home repairs enable our neighbors to stay in their homes safely, creating a ripple effect of positive change,” said Caroline Blakely, president & CEO of Rebuilding Together. “A safe and healthy home strengthens our mental and physical health, fosters independence, increases upward mobility, and causes community connection to thrive. We’re encouraged to see that the survey results speak to the efficacy of our mission and will continue to follow these indicators in the years to come.”

To measure the impact on homeowners themselves, Rebuilding Together affiliates surveyed the clients they served in five months. The survey asked about changes they may have experienced since repairs were made. The project was executed throughout 2019 in partnership with external evaluator Actionable Insights.

National Rebuilding Together Day – 2020 Shout Out!

April 25, 2020

Well today – April 25 – is National Rebuilding Together Day.

The year 2020 will go down in history for the COVID19 virus.

Many things have been postponed or cancelled.

In America where Rebuilding Together resides, and literally every where else on the planet.

We are not able to have our National Rebuilding Together Day today.

But we can give a shout out to our volunteers.

They come and they sign up

They get their instructions.

Whether it’s inside;

Or outside in the rain.

They get the job done.

And smile when it’s over!

We could not do what we do with out all of you!

Today we celebrate YOU!

We hope to see you in the fall!

Rebuilding Together Muscatine County COVID 19 Update

April 15, 2020

Dear Friends of RTMC,
Wow! What a ride this last couple of months has been!
We have been in constant contact with our corporate leadership, discussing, and re-discussing when we will be able to do our “National Rebuilding Together Day”.
We first thought perhaps we could switch our “Rebuilding Day” to the end of May. Further discussion has provided a very different plan.
The corporate recommendation is to change our date to the end of August.
Our biggest concern is of course for the health and safety of both our volunteers, and the people in our community who we strive to help.
RTMC has decided the if we should receive emergency calls – we will then put together very small groups to care for those needs; So please watch, we just may give you a call.
We at RTMC appreciate your support of both finances, and volunteering.
We are still working behind the scenes daily; our “work” never really stops.
We’ll send out more information for you as we have it.
Until then; Be safe, and be healthy.
Copyright © 2020 Rebuilding Together Muscatine County, All rights reserved.
rebuildingtogethermuscatinecounty.org

Our mailing address is:
RTMuscatine@gmail.com

National Rebuilding Together Day – Corona-virus Update

March 20, 2020
To all Rebuilding Together Muscatine County Volunteers and Family,

At the recommendation of our corporate office, our National Rebuilding Day (NRD), that was scheduled to take place on Saturday, April 25, must be postponed until a later date.

Eight weeks was the recommendation. That will take us up to May 16th.

We are also still closely monitoring recommendations from Iowa Gov. Reynolds so that we will know if this time frame is still workable.

We will keep you updated via our web page, Facebook page and Mailchimp.

For more information on how to volunteer, or with other questions visit https://rebuildingtogethermuscatine.org/

 

Thank you for your understanding and overwhelming support over the years,

-RTMC Advisory Board

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Copyright © 2020
Rebuilding Together Muscatine County
All rights reserved.

Our mailing address is:
1424 B Houser Street
Muscatine, Iowa 52761

Our email is;
RTMuscatine@gmail.com

Our website is;
RebuildingTogetherMuscatine.org

RTMC, National Rebuilding Day, and COVID-19

March 17, 2020

To all Rebuilding Together Muscatine County Volunteers and Family,

As we approach our annual event, National Rebuilding Day (NRD), scheduled to take place on Saturday, April 25, we must use caution.  We are closely monitoring recommendations from Iowa Gov. Reynolds as to how we can help reduce the chances of spreading the Coronavirus. At this point, all area restaurants, bars, and places of entertainment have been closed to prevent gathering. Area schools are closed for the next month, and many other businesses may soon follow.

It is with the safety of our volunteer family, as well as our clients that the advisory board has implemented the following changes for NRD 2020:

  • Work will only proceed with the homeowner’s approval, which may be removed due to increased risk as time passes. If the homeowner is uncomfortable, we will reschedule for a later date.
  • All volunteers will receive a medical screening on the day work is to be completed. Volunteers who are found to pose a potential risk will be thanked, provided a donut, and sent home.
    • Screenings will include temperature and a questionnaire, as well as any additional information the medical team deems necessary.
  • Workgroups will be assigned in groups of 6-8 to accommodate the under 10 per gathering recommendation. This number will include the House Captain.
  • Volunteers will be assigned a check-in time, group check-ins will be staggered to allow for medical screenings, and to accommodate the small gathering requirements.
  • No volunteers will have direct contact with any homeowner at any time.
  • No volunteer will enter the resident at any time. All of the approved projects are accessibility ramps, therefore the work will be outside.
  • All ramps will be cleaned and sanitized before the workgroup leaving for the day.
  • All of these regulations are subject to change as more information is made available, including the potential to cancel or postpone the projects.

Due to the changes that are being set in place for 2020, our NRD will look different than in years past. Additionally, our volunteer force will need to accommodate. Within our smaller workgroups, we would like to ask returning volunteers and skilled builders who are willing to assist when needed.

For more information on how to volunteer, or with questions over the procedures in place, visit https://rebuildingtogethermuscatine.org/

Thank you for your understanding and overwhelming support over the years,

-RTMC Advisory Board

New Opportunities for RTMC

March 7, 2020

After a year of refurbishing, Building Together Muscatine County sells first home

After a whole year of restoration and refurbishing, Rebuilding Together Muscatine County finished work on this house, 614 Mulberry Ave., allowing it to be sold as an affordable and comfortable home that Executive Director Frank Iliff says “really shines.

Frank Iliff, executive director of Rebuilding Together Muscatine County, along with a team of volunteers and contracted work crews, will convert a former office building on the corner of 7th Street and Mulberry Avenue, Muscatine, into a two-bedroom home.

MUSCATINE — One of Frank Iliff’s first jobs as a child was building a new playhouse for his little sister each time his family moved, making sure it was always built solid and safe.

“Building just comes naturally to me,” Iliff said.

As an adult, Iliff uses his skills to rebuild and repair homes across Muscatine County for those who can’t afford these services.

Rebuilding Together Muscatine County has been a successful nonprofit in the community since March 2007. This week, Iliff, executive director and founder of the Muscatine branch, announced the sale of one of the nonprofits biggest projects.

In January 2019, RTMC took possession of a city-owned house at 614 Mulberry Ave., a former Muscatine Safe Streets site, abandoned since November 2017. RTMC got to work making it a renovated, but affordable home to sell.

Working on the house was like working on a puzzle, he said.

“Every little piece added to the overall picture,” he said. “We could see it start taking shape and becoming what we knew it was going to be.”

Restoration including replacing the door frame and door so that it swung inward instead of outward, sectioning off bedrooms by putting up walls, and making sure the new cabinet doors and appliances matched. RTMC added closets and a laundry niche, installing a donated washer and dryer set.

“It’s really a tight little unit,” he added, pointing out the insulation now in the home. New carpet, new lighting and plumbing, a new hot water heater and a dehumidifier in the basement were also added. “It really shines. We wanted to make it a nice home for somebody to come into, and I believe that’s what we did.”

He had expected the project to be finished in July 2019, but it ultimately took until January 2020. But he is happy with the results.

“I am so thoroughly happy, I would jump up and down if it didn’t hurt,” he said.

Re/Max Professionals quickly sold the home, with proceeds from the sale funding other RTMC projects.

Iliff isn’t sure what the next big project will be, though he is working with the city on it.

Throughout the years, Iliff and his team have helped build 30 wheelchair ramps, widened doorways, lifted and reinforced a house, paid to have entirely new electrical and plumbing systems put in and even rebuilt entire kitchens and bathrooms. A couple of his more memorable experiences have been getting a possum nest out of a home, putting in a porch sunshade for a woman with cancer so she could go outside, and painting a Korean War veteran’s home.

“We do whatever it takes to make people safe,” said Iliff, “To keep them warm and to keep them in their home.”

RTMC doesn’t do this alone, working with other businesses in the community such as Stanley Consultants, Muscatine Electric, Rivo Plumbing, Nelsons Electric and more, he said. 

“It’s a great community involvement. We pull in every specialty person we can think of and someone always steps up and helps us out.”

Iliff and his Rebuilding Together team seek volunteers for National Rebuilding Together Day on April 25, where they will be working on more wheelchair ramps as well as a few other projects.

“I tell people that if you give me nine hours, I’ll give you a T-shirt, a lunch and a day you won’t soon forget,” he said.

“I wouldn’t want to do anything else, and (these projects) are a lot of fun,” he said. “It’s crazy and chaotic, but it’s a lot of fun.”

RTMC’s Executive Director is Featured on the National Web Page!

February 5, 2020

Frank Iliff

Frank Iliff, Rebuilding Together Muscatine County’s executive director, keeps an extra shirt in his truck, but not because rebuilding homes is sweaty work. It’s because the shirt he wears is often soaked with tears by the end of the day.

“The homeowners we help will hold me and hug me and cry,” Frank said. “Once, I was hugged by a war veteran after our Rebuilding Together Muscatine County volunteers put a new sidewalk, kitchen sink and bathroom vanity in his home. He’d been so hardened by life, and he just stood there in my arms and cried and cried. It’s that kind of thing that gives me the impetus to carry on.”

Frank has done much more than just carry on. Since he founded Rebuilding Together Muscatine County in 2007, the organization—and Frank—have become fixtures in the local community. Muscatine is both a city and a county stretched along a scenic bend of the Mississippi River on the southeast edge of Iowa. Around 24,000 people live within the city’s borders, and the county has about twice as many residents. Tourists tend to call Muscatine a sleepy town, all while praising its spectacular sunsets and Iowan charm.

“My family and I have lived here for 30 years. Arriving in Muscatine was the first time I felt like I had a real home town. Though I haven’t lived here my whole life, I’m from here now. I’m a Muscatiner.”

Frank had always wanted to devote all his working hours to Rebuilding Together Muscatine County. But with his career set on a different path, he’d instead pressed ahead as its volunteer leader, fitting it into his schedule whenever possible. “Once I turned 66,” he explained, “I could get social security and make it happen.” In 2018, after decades working swing shifts at a local corporation, Frank retired from the private sector. Today, Frank is Rebuilding Together Muscatine County’s full-time executive director and first paid employee.

Now that Frank is free to devote himself fully to Rebuilding Together Muscatine County, his ambitions have grown. In summer 2019, the organization took on its first remodel of an entire building. Frank and his volunteers put in two bedrooms, a full kitchen, laundry room, shower and more into the small former office space. Once the transformation is complete, it will become a new home for a local family in need.

These kind of comprehensive home repairs are sorely needed for Muscatine to flourish. According to a 2017 study, the county’s existing housing is its largest economic asset. However, most of the existing housing is older and needs maintenance and rehabilitation. As a result, Muscatine County doesn’t have enough homes that people earning the lowest incomes can afford. More and more, people over age 55 are leaving Muscatine in part because their homes are not places where they can comfortably and safely grow older.

There’s little chance Frank would ever leave Muscatine.

“What makes me stay is the people. The people are just the best. When there’s a need, they step up. They step up and they go out of their way. They just do. I’ve had hundreds of volunteers show up to fix up their neighbors’ homes just by simply asking for help.”

Frank intends to make Rebuilding Together a household name in Muscatine County and beyond. He explained his plans: “The need in this area is so great. I want to get the word out more in Muscatine County about the work we do. Then I want to bring Rebuilding Together into other counties to help even more people and communities.”

To start on these goals, Frank has already joined the Rotary Club of Muscatine and become an ambassador with the Greater Muscatine Chamber of Commerce and Industry. He is sitting down with local corporate leaders to figure out the best way to get them involved in Rebuilding Together Muscatine County’s home repair projects.

Frank also has an eye on the long term in another way. “I have seven grandkids. They’ll sometimes help out on our home rebuilding days. That means I’ve got seven really important people watching me and learning from me.”

Rebuilding Together is really about hard-working, compassionate people helping other people. Volunteer with your local Rebuilding Together affiliate and become a partner in your community.

Surprise Presentation

January 21, 2020
Rebuilding Together Muscatine County, Inc.
Published by Mary Wheeler

Tonight’s board meeting for Rebuilding Together began with a special presentation by Mary Jo Fitzgerald, presenting our chapter founder and executive Director Frank Iliff with a Quilt of Valor.
He was surprised.
She stated this is her 29th quilt, and the first presentation of 2020.
Frank served in the US Navy on the USS Hancock during Vietnam.
💙💙