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Rebuilding Together works to keep people in their homes

For National Rebuilding Day, 350 volunteers will work on 24 homes throughout Washington County
by: Jennifer Clampet, REBUILDING TOGETHER — Richard Groth, 81, stands outside his King City home. On Saturday volunteers with Rebuilding Together Washington County will work to repaint his home.

When Joan Goldhammer is asked what Rebuilding Together Washington County has done for the community in the last 15 years, she responds without hesitation.

'We actually stopped people from becoming homeless.'

The simple statement echoes on the phone as the executive director of Rebuilding Together Washington County relays stories about a single mother who was able to keep custody of her son because volunteers worked to transform her bathroom into one that was handicap-accessible for her paralyzed son.

Goldhammer can't even count the number of stories she has heard of senior citizens who are still living independently because Rebuild Together volunteers were able to fix up their homes.

'Sometimes you get caught up in the details of what you're doing,' Goldhammer said. 'But we try to never forget what or who we're doing it for.'

Last fiscal year, the nonprofit organization completed 124 projects at 92 homes throughout Washington County. In the last 15 years, volunteers with Rebuilding Together Washington County have worked on 750 homes throughout the county. The organization has both skilled and unskilled volunteers that work year-round to work on low-income families' homes that are in need of repairs or upgrades.

'The work we do helps people stay in their homes,' Goldhammer said.

Last year Suzanne Gilman's deck was set on fire. And after just a few weeks, the charred wood and unusable deck still remained. Gilman, who receives a small disability check, couldn't even fathom being able to afford a new deck. But the property management company for her neighborhood in King City sent out a notice for her to clean up the deck or she would have to move.

'If there wasn't an agency like Rebuild Together, I don't know what I would have done,' Gilman said.

Richard Groth, 81, of King City, stood outside his home Tuesday. He showed off a spot in a container garden where he had begun the task of planting some vegetables before being driven inside by the cold rain the day before.

Groth, who lives with his wife Viola, is an avid gardener. The outside of his home has various containers with flowers, vegetables and plants that provide a stark contrast against his home, which needs a new paint job.

But Groth smiles when he talks about the crews that are expected to surround his home on Saturday to give his home a new coat of paint, install some safety bars in the bathrooms and possibly provide his home with more smoke detectors.

'We're just really blessed by the fact that so many people are involved in doing this,' Groth said.

This Saturday 350 volunteers with Rebuilding Together Washington County will help 24 low-income families keep their homes livable.

The event is being held in connection with National Rebuilding Day, an event organized by Rebuilding Together, a national nonprofit organization that works to preserve affordable homeownership.

To qualify to receive work from the organization, homeowners must fall into the Housing and Urban Development's low- to moderate-income standards. Goldhammer notes that the organization helps the elderly, the disabled and families with dependent children.

This year's event also received additional funding from the Sears' Holding Heroes at Home Program to help support home repairs done for military families and veterans in need. The Washington County chapter will be repairing four homes on Saturday owned by military veterans.