by Deborah Iliff – Volunteer Coordinator for Rebuilding Together Muscatine County
I want to share one of my favorite National Rebuilding Together day stories with you. Rebuilding Together not only takes care of physical needs, but emotional needs as well. Read on to find out how.
In 2011, on our National Rebuilding Together Day, we did some work on a house near the south end of Muscatine.
The very elderly lady/client simply wanted to know why she was cleaning up bees in her bathroom window, every single day. She was afraid of being stung.
Upon arrival and inspection by three of our house captains, it was found that she was in need of so much more than help with bees. There were many minor things that needed fixed, but some major things she was not aware of, or at the least did not mention.
There was literally no dry wall in her bathroom. Inside the wall of her bathroom, were found three giant wasps nests. These critters were sharing her bathroom with her, without her knowledge or permission!
Total installation included new dry wall, insulation, new toilet, bathtub surround, vanity, and lighting.
Her washer and dryer were in the basement. The stairs were very steep. To get her laundry down the stairs, she took a basket down, one step at a time and the same way again, to go back up. There was also a broken window behind the washer. Rebuilding Together Muscatine County, fixed her window, but then created a laundry center in a bedroom on the main floor.
Rebuilding Together also had nineteen windows replaced throughout the home. This work was paid for by Rebuilding Together, and the installation was done by the kind folks at Window World of Davenport.
The work needed was actually so extensive that Rebuilding Together Muscatine County paid for two nights at a hotel and dinner for the client and her daughter.
The rest of the story; our friend not only shared her home with a lot of wasps but also, her adult daughter who was deaf. If she had fallen down those stairs, no one would have heard her cries for help.
There is another thing that Rebuilding Together does for the homeowner. That is to provide what is called an “Ambassador”. This “Ambassador” is someone who will sit and visit with the client for most or all of the time that volunteers are in the home.
Being elderly or disabled, and having strangers in your home, taking things apart, can be very unsettling. The “Ambassador” provides company and distraction for the homeowner, as well as safety for all people involved in the rehabilitation.
The “Ambassador” in this case “happened to be” a teacher who worked with the hearing impaired children in the school district, she told us this story after the fact; this lady and her daughter had never been able to communicate in a really meaningful way. With the help of the “Ambassador”, the mother and daughter shared information about the mother’s wedding that had never been shared before. Stories, photographs, tears, and smiles enriched the relationship between mother and daughter because of their interaction with Rebuilding together.
We not only help to rebuild homes, but we rebuild lives as well.