Rebuilding Together Atlanta Interview
Georgia has many wonderful non-profit organizations who have been working hard to contribute to our community and make it a better place for living. Some of them exist for many years, and it would be our honor to say something about their work to the public.
Therefore, your number one roofer from Lawrenceville, Georgia, Georgia Roof Pro, would like to present you Rebuilding Together Atlanta, an amazing non-profit organization which performs free home improvement projects for homeowners in need. We admire them for helping our low-income homeowners to survive and have a decent, functional home, and wish them good luck in their future projects!
To begin with, we would like you to briefly tell us about your organization
Rebuilding Together Atlanta is a non-profit organization striving to preserve and revitalize houses and communities in Atlanta, Georgia. We work to assure that low-income homeowners, particularly older adults, military veterans, people with disabilities and multi-generational families, live in warmth, safety and independence.
- What do you do exactly? And what was the reason that encouraged you to start this organization?
We perform free home improvement projects for homeowners in need! These critical repairs including accessibility modifications, energy efficiency upgrades, plumbing repairs, painting, wall and floor repairs, landscaping, and other improvements. We also replace roofs for homeowners for free through a grant with the U.S. Dept. of H.U.D. and the City of Atlanta.
- What motivates you? Describe your mission passion
As executive director, I am motivated by our mission and by the people that we help each and every day. In fact, the best part about working at RTA is getting to meet the homeowners that we serve and seeing their reactions to the transformation in their homes. I also love seeing the satisfaction volunteers get in helping their less fortunate neighbors.
- Tell us about your goals
RTA’s goal is to renovate and revitalize the homes of low-income homeowners in Atlanta. This has several benefits: 1) helping people and families to live in a safe, warm and dry home; 2) increasing the stock of affordable housing; and 3) enabling seniors to comfortably and safely age in their own homes.
- What was the hardest/toughest moment you had to deal with?
Obstacles you faced when dealing with bureaucracy, permits, funding, etc. Something you would like to point out to anyone who might be starting their own organization.
The toughest moments we deal with are when we cannot help someone either because we do not have the funding or because they do not meet the program requirements. Often, during rebuilds neighbors of the homeowners we are helping come by and ask us to help them. It’s difficult to say ‘no’ when you see the need staring you in the face. But, we do try to work off of our wait list and address critical needs first and then by the date the homeowner first reached out to us.
- What was the most fulfilling moment that happened to you?
Due to the demographics of the City of Atlanta and our income targets, we primarily help seniors to comfortably age in their own homes. Most of the people we help are older women who live alone. I look at some of these people and think that could be my grandmother. It really pulls at one’s heartstrings to know that despite a lifetime of helping others, some of these people don’t have anyone in their lives that can help them. I asked one homeowner why she wants to stay in her home and she said, ‘Because it’s mine. It’s all I have.’ Just think… she has worked and saved her entire life to own her own house. At 89 years old and on a limited income of Social Security benefits, she cannot afford to maintain it. But, she wants to live the rest of her life in her prized possession. Being with that homeowner and hearing her life’s stories was incredibly fulfilling for me personally.
- What separates you from the rest? Why you?
There is a huge need in Atlanta for affordable housing and help. Practically every day there are new articles in the newspapers and stories in the news about how low-income Atlantans are being squeezed out of neighborhoods and their homes from gentrification and high property taxes. Millions of dollars are spent beautifying neighborhoods and bringing much-needed parks and greenspace. But, what is unfortunately getting lost in all of that is the human factor. People are struggling and need help. What sets RTA apart is that we are actively trying to help homeowners stay in their homes by making free home repairs so they don’t have to choose between food and medicine or paying to replace a leaking roof. Without our efforts, many of these recipients might continue to live in homes with moisture, mold or other hazardous conditions due to the cost, or lose their homes altogether.
- Do you have any upcoming events in the forthcoming months?
Yes! We have a rebuild coming up early December that needs volunteers! We will be helping Mr. Wiley, a 75 year old Air Force veteran who served in Cambodia and Okinawa. He has lived in his home in southwest Atlanta for almost 40 years. Mr. Wiley is a devoted grandfather who raised his Grandson who is now 19 and in college. Sadly, his wife passed away last year after having been married for nearly 50 years and he misses her every day. Now Mr. Wiley babysits his second grandson, 4 month old Hunter every day while his daughter goes to work as a teacher. Mr. Wiley needs our help maintaining his home and yard. He suffered an injury falling off a military plane that now has left his hands severely arthritic. RTA will have a chimney cap installed on his aging chimney to prevent water intrusion and debris from entering the house. Volunteers are needed to help clean up the yard and spend time with Mr. Wiley who loves visitors and telling stories about his family. We can also assemble a lighted Christmas tree. He has been on our waitlist since 2010.
- What is it that you love most about what you do?
I love the hugs and happy tears and knowing that what I am doing today is helping someone to have a better tomorrow.
- What is the biggest challenge you’re faced with today?
Our biggest challenge is fundraising. The needs in Atlanta are so great and as a result we have a waiting list of more than 500 homeowners. But, we are limited in what we can do by the funds we receive from individuals, businesses, foundations and governmental support. That is why we continually seek financial support. We are able to leverage donations by using contractors that provide some in-kind support and by having volunteers onsite to perform unskilled repairs. Every donation and every dollar helps us to help more struggling homeowners.
- Anything else you would like to add?
Anyone can get involved to help us! Voluntarism is a fundamental part of our organization. We rely heavily on businesses and foundations to fund our home repairs and their employees often volunteer to perform unskilled work at the homes. We use the funding from these corporate partners to pay for skilled contractors to perform the difficult, critical repairs. But, you don’t have to be connected with a sponsor to get involved. We’re often seeking general volunteers for projects, people to serve on our working committees and volunteers to serve on our board of directors. There are a myriad of ways to get involved. Often people want to help but there are a lot of demands on their time so I encourage those people to consider serving as an ambassador of sorts for RTA. Help us get our message out, help to introduce RTA to others, encourage individuals and employers to support our work. Or, personally give to RTA. Every bit of kindness, every spoken word, every social media posting about RTA, and every donation helps to move our mission forward!
Contact: How can people reach out to you?
Your organization’s name, phone, address, e-mail and links to your website and social media
We can be reached at info@RebuildingTogether-Atlanta.org or at 404.505.5599.
We are on social media at @RTAtlanta.
Thank you for you time from the top roofing contractor from Gwinnett County, Georgia, Georgia Roof Pro!