By Teri Carnicelli
Each October, Rebuilding Together partners with hundreds of volunteers from around the Valley to help low-income elderly, or permanently disabled homeowners of any age, whose one-story homes need exterior painting.
When Jeremiah Churchill received a request for assistance from an 82-year-old woman living in Sunnyslope, he knew he wanted to help her. But an examination of the outside of her early 1960s home showed that it needed much more than a fresh coat of paint. Part of the wood siding was rotted out, and the small window air conditioning unit could barely keep the interior cool in the hot summer months because of the original aluminum frame windows.
Churchill kept her information on file, and when the nonprofit organization launched its Healthy Housing Challenge earlier this year, he knew that Phyllis’s home was a perfect fit.
The Healthy Housing Challenge combines the strengths of Rebuilding Together and the National Center for Healthy Housing to help Rebuilding Together affiliates identify and correct serious health and safety hazards in their clients’ homes.
Phyllis, the original owner of the home, was overjoyed when she received Churchill’s call. “I’m so thankful, I would never begin to have the money to do this myself.” She called Churchill her “guardian angel” and said that he had gone out of his way to make sure she was taken care of.
Rebuilding Together and a team of Wells Fargo volunteers began work on Phyllis’s home, which still had its original exterior pink-and-white paint, in early April, with scraping off the old paint, trimming back landscaping away from the walls and other prep work. The bulk of the work was done over the weekend of April 25-26.
The new blue and white paint, new energy-efficient windows, and new siding and fascia was funded, in part, by a $15,000 grant from the Wells Fargo Housing Foundation, which was split between Phyllis’s home and one other home in the Sunnyslope area.
Wells Fargo team members, along with some of their family members, were led by Wells Fargo on-site volunteer coordinator Lynn Borden, who has been a leader in the Rebuilding Together annual paint-a-thon for three years. She oversaw a volunteer team of 23 workers, most of who came from the Tempe South home mortgage office. “I had a list of volunteers before the grant was even approved,” Borden said. “This is the type of project that we all love to get involved with.”
The Wells Fargo volunteers were joined by a handful of AmeriCorps service members and staff members from Rebuilding Together.
Rebuilding Together is one of 32 local organizations across the country that is leading the Healthy Housing Challenge, which provides tools, training and additional funds to help Rebuilding Together affiliates make free critical repairs to correct health and safety hazards in the homes of low-income families, seniors, veterans and persons with disabilities.
“Wells Fargo is proud to support Rebuilding Together and help to kick off the National Housing Challenge,” said Pam Conboy, lead region president for Wells Fargo Arizona. “Our team members are passionate about giving back and we know that these small measures, together, will make a huge difference to housing in Phoenix and to the well-being of those who live here.”
For more information about Rebuilding Together, visit www.rebuildingtogetherphx.org or call 480-774-0237.