For more than 25 years, Rebuilding Together Northeast Ohio has helped low income families, elderly, disabled and veterans update their homes with a vision of improving the safety and health of these homes and revitalizing communities.
According to the Rebuilding Together website, this vision began in 1973 in Midland, Texas, by a small group of individuals who saw a need in their community. It came to Ohio in 1991 in Lake County and has expanded across Northeast Ohio, including Stark County, as one of its later outreaches in 2011. By 2012, Rebuilding Together Northeast Ohio Stark County had completed its first repair.
With more than 30,000 veterans living within Stark County, the seven board members of RTNEO Stark saw a specific need in the community and decided to focus solely on veterans with the new Rebuilding Together branch.
RTNEO Stark secretary Lisa Williams said RTNEO Stark is in need of volunteers for their projects, community outreach and fundraising. The program only has seven board members, and with more volunteers, Williams said RTNEO Stark could do more projects. To fill this need, RTNEO Stark has created a program called Volunteer for Veterans.
"We don’t have a ton of volunteer opportunities — maybe 8 to 10 events per year — but (we thought) that maybe if we put something out there and let people help as they can instead of asking for more board members we can just get more volunteers because a lot of people don’t want to commit to a board," Williams said.
The organization typically works on 10 houses throughout the year plus an additional two to three houses on their annual Veterans Service Day, which will take place May 12 in 2017.
Anyone interested in the program can contact Williams at firstname.lastname@example.org. Volunteers would need to let Williams know what they are interested in, and they will be signed up for an email listing that will notify volunteers of potential opportunities.
"We’re looking for volunteers for a variety of different things," Williams said. "It’s really open, and I try to keep it really open. You know, people can pick and choose what they want to do and when they’re available to do it so we thought we would get more people that way."
RTNEO Stark works to update veteran housing including installing grab bars, fixing ramps, repairing roofs and painting.
"Our whole thing that we try to push is that we want all the Stark County veterans to be in safe and healthy homes," Williams said. "That’s essentially what we would all be volunteering toward the same goal of doing is keeping low income veterans in their actual homes that they own and making them safe and healthy so that they don’t have a leaky roof that causes mold and health problems. Things like that."