Community Comes Together to Rebuild Low-Income Homes

Home Depot volunteers help renovate a home on National Rebuilding Together Day.

Home improvement has taken on a whole new meaning with Rebuilding Together.

“Christianity is more caught than taught,” said Chris Reny, senior pastor of Church by the Sea. “It is about letting your life speak.”

Reny, among other Christian leaders, joined Rebuilding Together Broward County to upgrade low-income homes in April in commemoration of National Rebuilding Month.

The non-profit organization successfully renovated three different homes in low-income areas in collaboration with other community establishments. This was one of its many efforts to integrate the church with the community to help meet the basic needs of others.

“What is lacking is the opportunity for men in the church to use their skills,” said Robin Martin, executive director of Rebuilding Together Broward County. “I think people want to help but do not know how, so Rebuilding Together is an easy way for members to serve.”

Rebuilding Together was established in 1973. With a mission to “preserve and restore safe and healthy homes for homeowners in need,” according to its monthly publication, the organization encourages people to serve their neighbors in low-income communities. Under the auspices of National Rebuilding Month, Rebuilding Together was able to give businesses and Christian ministries a platform to do just that.

Throughout the month, along with the Miami Dolphin’s Special Team, the People’s Trust Insurance and the Rapid Response Team, volunteers from West Pines Community Church, Calvary Chapel Fort Lauderdale, and Church by the Sea, provided safe shelter for homes in the county.

Martin reported in his periodic newsletter that over 40 volunteers at AMIkids Greater Fort Lauderdale and 300 volunteers in Collier City joined in this initiative. With this team effort, the organization was able to foster community development throughout the month. The volunteers served eight homes in the 33311 zip code/Broward Municipal Services District and 16 homes in Collier City.

 

Volunteers from Bank United helped renovate homes.

Helping those in need

Martin further described the event’s success through the hearts of the beneficiaries. He said Daisy Mclamore, an elderly grandmother of three, “was so thankful to have the cracks in her foundation fixed and to get a fresh coat of paint.”

Frank Wilson, one of the barbers in the community, “got a face lift and minor repairs on his home.” Wilson also received some much need assistance with his shed in the backyard.

While the beneficiaries received the much need help, Rebekah Barnes, a congregant and volunteer from West Pines Church, gave the much needed investment as a representative of Christ. “As the culture of our church, we make it a habit to have an ongoing service component,” Barnes said. With service being their motivating factor, the West Pines Church volunteers got involved with Rebuilding Together to contribute their time and effort to the community as a church family.

She believes that loving God and others well encompasses service and “whoever refreshes others will be refreshed” (Proverbs 11:25).

 

Partnering with AMIKids

Not only does the organization help churches serve the community, Rebuilding Together also contributes to the leadership development of troubled teens.

“We were also proud to begin a 2-year project to renovate AMIkids: an alternative high school for troubled teens,” Martin said. “The work is to help them in their 50th Anniversary Grand re-opening.”

Together with Leadership Fort Lauderdale Class 23, a program of the Greater Fort Lauderdale Chamber of Commerce, Rebuilding Together completed its work on the main classroom and continues its work on the amenities for the re-opening.

Felix Collazo, executive director of AMIkids Greater Fort Lauderdale, said that thanks to the initiative, the kids have developed a relationship with Rebuilding Together Broward.

“We are excited about its impact on the kids,” Collazo said. “The kids are motivated to attend the program.”

Collazo notes that it is ultimately the school’s desire to “turn the students into fully functional members of society.”

Beyond building structures, Rebuilding Together’s investment in troubled teens through AMIkids alone has helped the educational program reach its goal of building the lives of many children. Some of these accomplishments are preparation for state-wide testing, mental health and substance abuse therapy, mentorships, evidence-based therapy for anger management, and behavior modification through a rank system. Students are also equipped to work in the community with certifications such as CompTIA, by the IT industry trade association.

Rebuilding Together works on close to 50 homes annually, Martin said.

 

Volunteers welcome

Whether it is supporting your community’s homes or teens, Rebuilding Together is always in need of volunteers. “We are looking for church partners to come alongside us,” Martin said. “We want to be a resource and provide ways for their congregation to help serve homeowners in the community.”

To volunteer with Rebuilding Together Broward County, contact Robin Martin at robin@rebuildingtogetherbroward.org .

 

“Lydia Hicks is a freelance journalist and graduate of the Bob Schieffer College of Communication at Texas Christian University. She can be reached at lydieeddie1@gmail.com. “

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