Many hands do, indeed, make light work. Long-time Santa Clara resident Mieke Endeman, 87, is thrilled at the free facelift her home got May 18, all thanks to Rebuilding Together Silicon Valley (RTSV) and 12 friendly, energetic volunteers from a Wells Fargo downtown San Jose mortgage team.
It took the Wells Fargo volunteers under three hours to prime and paint the outside of her two-story, 1966 house, spraying and rolling 27 gallons of tan paint and brushing on the white trim. They also replaced siding that had dry rot.
For a final spark, the volunteers cleaned up the front yard and planted flowers in pots. New house numbers were added for safety so that Endeman’s house could be more easily found in an emergency.
Endeman, who has a number of health issues and low income, was assisted out of the house to admire the transformation by her granddaughter, Falina Grant, who, with her two young sons, lives with her.
“I feel very happy, and I’d like to thank all the people and volunteers from Wells Fargo for fixing up the house and painting the exterior,” said Endeman, who was born in Indonesia and is proud that she still speaks Dutch. “I feel very lucky so many people helped. The house looks like new again.”
“It’s a big transformation. A complete makeover,” said Grant, who found out about RTSV by surfing the internet for possible assistance for her grandmother. Grant then filled out and submitted the paperwork to Rebuilding Together on behalf of her grandmother.
“[RTSV is] a very helpful organization. I’d recommend them to anyone who can’t afford house work,” said Endeman, who enjoys watching game shows and cooking—“just not with too much salt.”
RTSV serves the geographical area from Sunnyvale to Gilroy and east to Milpitas. It partners with corporate sponsors and sub-contractors and pulls together hundreds of volunteers each April and October for what it calls a “repair blitz” of home renovations and improvements for those who do not have the resources or ability to do it themselves. RTSV gives preference to requests from seniors, families with children, veterans, the disabled and nonprofit community centers.
“As houses are transformed, neighborhoods and communities find hope and pride restored,” RTSV states on its website.
RTSV Executive Director Beverley Jackson said that the projects are considered community revitalization, helping the neighborhoods, the families and the volunteers as well. RTSV completes about 360 projects yearly during its bi-annual work days. Since it was established in 1991, it has renovated nearly 3,000 homes and community facilities.
Not all projects are as ambitious as painting a two-story house. Projects enabling seniors to age in place, which are done year round, might be as simple—yet important—as installing lever handles, adding grab bars and upgrading lighting for fall prevention.
“We want to make sure anybody who needs our services knows about us. Our focus is safe and healthy housing,” said Jackson. “All volunteers need are helpful hearts and helpful hands.”
Volunteer groups and individuals come from business, faith communities, constructions teams and service organizations. Donated or reduced-price materials and volunteer elbow grease are used, giving RTSV big bang for their bucks. Every dollar donated yields eight dollars of repairs.
“I like the goals of Rebuilding Together, helping older people and others stay in their homes. It’s a wonderful organization,” said Hans Zeller, an 18-year volunteer with RTSV, who took photos of Endeman’s house transformation. “It’s fun and the people are friendly.”
For information, whether to request help, volunteer or donate, visit www.rebuildingtogethersv.org or call 408-578-9519. Applications for assistance are available online and are accepted throughout the year.
**Correction: The previous version of this story had the incorrect phone number for RTSV.