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A Homeowner Story: Ms. Waller

 “I didn’t know I could get help from anyone until Rebuilding Together helped me with the ramp” – Ms. Waller

Ms. Waller’s second set of front steps

Ms. Waller’s first set of front steps

Through a partnership with Adventist Healthcare, RTMC was introduced to Ms. Waller, a resident of Gaithersburg and a retired postal service employee of 25 years. During her years of service with the post office, Ms. Waller began to experience hip and knee issues which ultimately led to her retirement and slow health decline. After multiple surgeries and visits to the hospital, the doctors at Adventist realized that Ms. Waller would need help navigating her home, and reached out to RTMC for assistance.

Unfortunately, the front entrance to Ms. Waller’s condo had two flights of steps, making it extremely difficult and dangerous for her to navigate with a walker or cane. She suffered multiple falls and injuries as a result of her mobility restrictions, causing her to repeatedly return to the doctors for additional care. When RTMC did an evaluation of Ms. Waller’s home and discovered that she would benefit from accessibility modifications, they discovered that a ramp to Ms. Waller’s back door would make her home a safer and healthier space for her to reside.

With funding support from Adventist Healthcare and Mobility Solutions, RTMC was able to install a ramp from the back porch of Ms. Waller’s condo to her backyard. The ramp allows Ms. Waller to safely enter and leave her home and make it to the Metro Access bus stop. Navigating her way through the grass and around the building is still difficult with her walker, but it is a much safer alternative than risking the two flights of steps in the front of the building. Ms. Waller is extremely grateful for the team that helped her with this accessibility modification, saying “Mark and Mobility Solutions did a great job, they were out there for hours in the cold putting the ramp together“.

Ramp installation complete!

RTMC completed additional safe and healthy home repairs at Ms. Waller’s condo, installing smoke and carbon monoxide detectors throughout the home and supplying her with a fire extinguisher for the kitchen. Ms. Waller is now able to enjoy a safer and healthier home thanks to RTMC, Adventist Healthcare, and Mobility Solutions, but could still benefit from the use of a scooter. If anyone has a scooter they would be willing to donate or knows of someone who would be able to help Ms. Waller obtain one, please contact us.

Christina Betancourt Johnson Steps Down as RTMC’s Executive Director

Christina Betancourt Johnson will be leaving in mid-March to advance her family’s real estate business and continue her investment in the community with board positions in both Washington, DC and Montgomery County.  Christina has led RTMC for 4 ½ years during which RTMC was recognized as “One of the Best” by the Catalogue for Philanthropy.

RTMC has helped hundreds of vulnerable and low income people in Montgomery County by providing critical home repairs, energy efficiency upgrades and accessibility modifications. Christina has strengthened the Safe and Healthy home approach for clients countywide and increased the visibility of the organization’s services as recognized by multiple awards. She’s also built a stronger IT infrastructure, streamlined operations, enhanced reporting processes, improved fund development activities and mobilized a highly competent staff to carry out RTMC’s crucial work. RTMC serves 100 homeowners on a yearly basis and last year, 700 volunteers showed up on National Rebuilding Day to ensure safe and healthy homes for local residents in Montgomery County.

“Christina has been an inspirational and motivational leader for the RTMC organization.  She has brought forth a strong mission-driven commitment and key relationships to grow the organization’s impact and make a difference for individuals, families, and communities across Montgomery County.  Her successor will inherit an innovative, thriving organization with an adaptive leadership team and staff that is willing and dedicated to the success of the organization and to those in the county in need,” says Brian Pettit, Board President.

“It has truly been a team effort with amazing team members, a passionate Board of Directors, and a community of supporters, friends and partners who believe in our mission and vision for our future,” remarks Christina, who adds, “I will forever remain a friend and champion of RTMC and the mission.”

The RTMC Board of Directors has appointed a transition committee and has also engaged Raffa, a locally-based consulting firm that specializes in nonprofit executive search and transition, to conduct a national search for a successor.  The search launched the fourth week of January and you can find the position description here.  Individuals interested in exploring the leadership opportunity can reach out to Lauren Weinstein (lweinstein@raffa.com).

RTs Nationwide Help Houston Recovery Efforts

As we plan for the recovery for Hurricane Nate, we wanted to share with you all the current status of our affiliates impacted by the last round of hurricanes.

Affiliate Status and Response

Hurricane Harvey

Rebuilding Together Houston is back up and running. They are fully engaged with the recovery efforts in Houston working with City staff, the United Way, VOAD, LISC and other organizations. With support from Rebuilding Together New Orleans they have taken on some early-phase recovery work mucking and gutting, but know that the majority of their work will be over the next few years in long-term recovery.

This month, they celebrated the planned retirement of CEO, Jim Soller and welcomed their new CEO, Christine Holland. She has jumped in with both feet and we look forward to sharing the official press release, including her bio, in the next LINE (eNews).

As always, the network has responded with care and concern and questions about how they can support their fellow affiliates. Rebuilding Together Houston has shared their initial calendar of work days and welcome individuals and teams of skilled volunteers. They anticipate work ramping up in the spring and summer of 2018 through at least 2020. As they refine their plan, they seek to balance the needs of flood victims with their current waitlist of clients, stretching their current capacity and resources.

 

 

Activity

Date Crews
FALL VHRP Mucking & Gutting 10/20/17 3 Crews
FALL VHRP Mucking & Gutting 10/21/17 3 Crews
FALL VHRP Mucking & Gutting 10/28/17 1 Crew
BHGRE Exterior & Possible Interior 1/9/2018 10 Crews
Super Impact 2018 Exterior & Possible Interior 1/30 – 2/3/2018 10+ Crews
Rebuilding Northside Exteriors 2/17/2018 10 Crews

Volunteer For Long-term Recovery

RTH is currently evaluating resources, coordinating with partners, and organizing a multi-layered volunteer effort to serve their neighbors most in need. Grab your boots and join  the recovery effort! Register your team or yourself to help.

Group Leaders: Register a Volunteer Team

In the “Notes” section of the form please include: – “Hurricane Harvey Team”

  • number of volunteers
  • the group’s skills (carpentry, drywall installation, mold remediation, ‘worker bees’ etc.)
  • date(s) that you hope to volunteer

Register as an Individual Volunteer

In the “Notes” section of the form please include the type of volunteer work you prefer: (i.e. Hurricane Harvey relief, rebuilding homes, carpentry, warehouse inventory, office work, etc.)

If you know someone in the Houston are who needs help: 

  • If you need help clearing-out your flooded home:
    Crisis Cleanup Hotline
    844-965-1386
  • For FEMA Disaster Assistance Program Funding:
    Register for assistance at disasterassistance.gov or
    Call 1-800-621-FEMA
  • Legal Questions?
    State Bar of Texas Hotline
    800-504-7030

 

Rebuilding Together San Antonio has decided to temporarily expand their service territory to include the gulf region of Texas where Hurricane Harvey touched town. They are supported in this work with an initial grant from national partner, Charter Communications. Executive Director, Kent Gerstner, has begun outreach in the hardest hit communities connecting with government officials and community partners. We anticipate Rebuilding Together’s recovery work to be up and running by the end of the year. Rebuilding Together San Antonio also welcomes support from skilled volunteers once they have their program established.

 

While the effects of Hurricane Harvey were somewhat diminished by the time it reached Louisiana, it did worsen the effects of last years’ historic flooding. Rebuilding Together Acadiana and Rebuilding Together Baton Rouge are still in active recovery mode rebuilding the homes of nearly 900 flood victims.

 

Hurricane Irma

 

Rebuilding Together Miami-Dade, Broward County, Of the Palm Beaches, Tampa Bay, Orlando and North Central Florida were all impacted by Hurricane Irma. While they were fortunate not to have the catastrophic damage of Hurricane Harvey, several of the affiliates experienced power outages and damage to their offices. All of the Florida affiliates are actively engaging volunteers in recovery-related work and all of them anticipate increased requests for roof repair and replacement.

 

Hurricane Maria

 

While we do not have an affiliate currently serving Puerto Rico, we are exploring where we may be able to partner with NGOs active in the region to leverage opportunities for in-kind donations and other support.

 

National Office Response

 

The national office has been in close communication with all of our affiliates and our corporate partners as response and recovery plans have been evolving. We’ve been thrilled with the generosity of our current partners, particularly Charter Communications and Sears, and the interest of new partners in supporting the long-term recovery efforts of our affiliates.

 

The national office has created a PSA to highlight the long-term recovery efforts of the organization, which is featured above. The PSA will started running last week on Charter Communications’ stations, on HGTV and 300 local television stations throughout the country. The national office will use the PSA to launch the Rebuild2Recover campaign that will live on rebuildingtogether.org. The campaign will include educational graphics and a booklet to provide information to the people we serve around how to prepare their home prior to a disaster and what to do following a disaster. The purpose of the campaign is to raise money year-round and build assets that can be deployed whenever a disaster happens.

 

RTMC will not organization a recovery team but is encouraging all interested volunteers and supporters to contact the affected region’s affiliate to find out how you can play a role in the rebuilding efforts in that community.  RTMC and our national network has and will continue to provide support to the effected affiliates, sharing lessons learned from past disasters, fundraising and helping highlight the importance of sustained support for recovery efforts.

Rebuilding Together Featured in Latest Issue of Better Homes and Gardens Magazine!

Check out Rebuilding Together in the latest issue of Better Homes and Gardens magazine! Rebuilding Together National Office Board Member, Mell Meredith-Fraizer, Vice Chairman of Meredith Corporation, brought this opportunity to us a few months ago and Rebuilding Together Long Island worked diligently to bring everything to fruition

The article titled “Home, Sweet Home” on pages 70-74 describes the story of a grandmother, Karen, unexpectedly jumping back into parenting and the housing difficulties she faced in making her home conducive to a growing four-year-old. She needed a reliable, safe deck and an updated water filtration system. Rebuilding Together Long Island also provided the home with paneling, hardware, lighting fixtures and additional storage to deter clutter.

Local designer Jen O’Brien took the lead on redesigning the home for Karen and her grandson, Liam. Through Jen’s room concept and Rebuilding Together Long Island’s repairs, the home has reduced fall risks and ensures a safe and healthy environment for Liam to play, learn and grow. The materials for this project were provided by donors including national sponsors Lowe’s and Sherwin Williams.

Meredith Corporation, parent company of Better Homes and Gardens magazine, has partnered with Rebuilding Together for over 15 years to help us make homes safer and healthier for people in need. Take a look at the story reflecting this long-standing partnership in the October issue of Better Homes and Gardens magazine on newsstands now.

Read the article online at:

http://www.bhg.com/decorating/makeovers/long-island-rebuilding-together-main-floor-makeover/

 

Community Investment Tax Credits Can Help You Save on Taxes

Community Investment Tax Credits

Thank you for your interest in supporting RTMC!  Are you a resident of Maryland or a business that pays Maryland state taxes?  If so, RTMC can help you boost your contribution by reducing your tax liability, using Maryland’s Community Investment Tax Credits. Most years, RTMC receives an annual allocation of Community Investment Tax Credits from the Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development.  After the allocation, RTMC finds individuals and businesses who wish to donate $500 – $500,000 in money or real property to RTMC, and in the process, earn 50% of the value of the contribution in state tax credits.  Community Investment Tax Credits are usable in addition to the Federal and State tax deductions for charitable donations.

The combination of the tax credits and tax deductions significantly reduces the actual out of pocket spent per dollar donated…which allows for larger donations!  The following table shows how RTMC and businesses at different tax rates can benefit from the Community Investment Tax Credits:

  Small Company Mid-Size Company Large Company
Tax Rate 17% (10% Fed, 7% State) 30% (23% Fed, 7% State) 43% (36% Fed, 7% State)
Donation to RTMC $1,000 $1,000 $1,000
Combined tax deduction ($170) ($300) ($430)
Tax credit on state tax return
(50% of donation)
($500) ($500) ($500)
Total tax benefit ($670) ($800) ($930)
Net out-of-pocket cost $330 $200 $70

Eligible businesses include any entity that conducts a trade or business in Maryland and is subject to the state income tax, the public service company franchise tax, or the insurance premiums tax.  These types of entities generally include corporations, public utility companies, insurance companies, financial institutions, S corporations, sole proprietors, and limited liability corporations.

Eligible individuals include residents of Maryland.  Residents are defined as individuals who are living in Maryland on the last day of the taxable year, or individuals that live in Maryland for more than 6 months of the taxable year and are physically present in the state for 183 or more days during the taxable year.

For more information about making a donation and using Community Investment Tax Credits, please contact Elisa Hermes at 301-947-9400.

USEFUL LINKS

The following information may be useful to both individuals and businesses making contributions, as well as nonprofit participants in the Community Investment Tax Credit program. This information is for reference only and any individual or business contemplating making a contribution, that has questions about their specific tax advantages, is encouraged to consult with their accountant or tax professional.

Women Renovate a Home and Strengthen Community at She Builds 2017

On Saturday, April 29, 2017, Rebuilding Together Montgomery County’s kicked off its inaugural She Builds event with a talented crew of female volunteers that worked tirelessly to repair the home of Ms. Belay, a mom, 1st generation American and an engaged community member.

“She Builds” is part of Rebuilding Together’s national effort to bring together female business leaders and volunteers to support the most vulnerable populations of female homeowners in our nation.  According to USAID, programs that provide women opportunities to better their family’s health, education and shelter, have effects far beyond a single individual.  In fact, USAID reports a woman multiplies the impact of an investment made in her future by extending the benefits to her community 3-fold.

Through She Builds, RTMCs work with our partners and volunteers to provide critical home repairs to women-owned households and facility improvements for nonprofits that provides services to low income women in need.  She Builds events are organized by women, executed by women and benefit the entire community. Designed to highlight the unique strengths that women in our communities bring to ensuring fair and affordable housing for all, She Builds

In order to cover the costs of repairs made to Ms. Belay’s home, She Builds volunteers contacted friends, neighbors, social media network, etc. in a peer-to-peer fundraising campaign.  Through their efforts, the team raised $4,505 with donations still coming in!

On project day, House Captain, Ms. Jodi Longo, was instrumental in ensuring that tasks were properly executed.  Jodi, owner of the full-service construction company Renovation Studio, was a perfect fit for the job.  House Ambassador, Tara Murayama, helped make sure everything went smoothly and Ms. Belay’s needs were met to the best of our abilities, while crew leaders Sherry Kissal, Marion Coleman, Susan Prather, and Kathy Narva led groups of volunteers in providing hands-on “how to” information for each task.  These women leaders proved invaluable to the project which simply could not have been completed without their help.

Students from the Woods Academy worked on landscaping the front and back yards.  Attorneys and friends from Birchstone Moore helped sand the deck to prepare it for staining, while another group ov volunteers removed broken, rotted lattice from underneath the deck.  Inside, women painted Ms. Belay’s living room.

The afternoon volunteers demolished a rotting and unsafe backyard shed, continued landscaping, finished sanding the deck and completed interior painting. Carolina Menor, Colleen Lee, Janet Demas and several others provided delicious breakfast, snacks, and lunch to nourish everyone throughout the day.

The day ended with lots of hugs and group photos of tired but satisfied volunteers, as well as tea and cake provided by a very appreciative homeowner!  Already, Jodi Longo and RTMC staff are excited to plan for next year’s She Builds!

A heartfelt THANK YOU to the amazing volunteers who came out to lend a hand to a neighbor in need — your work is invaluable, appreciated and something to be proud of.

For information on how to get involved in a future She Builds event, please contact Melissa Erickson, Development and Communications Manager at 301-947-9400, x105 or at merickson@rebuildingtogethermc.org.

 

Hawk Handyman Volunteers Support Summer Lowe’s Project

The best antidote I know for worry is work. The best cure for weariness is the challenge of helping someone who is even more tired. One of the great ironies of life is this: He or she who serves almost always benefits more than he or she who is served.

Throughout the year, Rebuilding Together Montgomery County (RTMC) has the great fortune of employing the help of ten amazing volunteer handymen. These gentlemen offer up their time to do recurring projects for RTMC. According to Pete Baum, a participant in the Hawk Handyman program, “I just love coming out to help other people. It’s rewarding work. Finishing the day, knowing that I’ve been able to make someone’s life easier and better is a good thing. My friend Marty brought me into this work and I’m so glad that he did.” That friend he’s referring to is Marty Severe who has worked with RTMC for more than a decade!

“Giving and getting is part of volunteerism. With RTMC, I’m able to give back to my community in a meaningful way while working alongside my old friends. It’s a way to have fun and invest my time in a meaningful act of service,” says Marty Severe.

On Wednesday, June 28th, Hawk Handymen Pete Baum, Marty Severe, Larry Cole, and John Vilgos worked alongside Lowe’s ProServices team members to address health and safety concerns in the home of one of our clients.

Together, they completed a roof patch, replaced the home’s gutters, connected a new fridge and stove, installed smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, made electrical repairs, placed new and larger house members on the front of the home, and attached new railings to help our client navigate his stairs in a safer and more stable way.

Many thanks to Lowe’s for their continued partnership with Rebuilding Together, for the homeowner who entrusted us to his home, and to the committed Hawk Handymen who are there for our community when it counts!

RTMC RAISES MORE THAN $51,000 AT 24TH ANNUAL CHARITY GOLF TOURNAMENT

One hundred and twenty-four golfers participated in 18 holes of scramble golf at Whiskey Creek on Monday, October 17. Approximately $51,000 was raised to support the safe and healthy housing solutions that RTMC provides across Montgomery County.

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For Immediate Release

Gaithersburg, MD, (October 21, 2016) – Rebuilding Together Montgomery County (RTMC) hosted it’s 24th annual golf tournament on the beautifully maintained greens of Whiskey Creek Golf Club in Ijamsville, MD on October 17.  Approximately $51,000 was raised to support the safe and healthy housing solutions that RTMC provides to homeowners in need across Montgomery County.

To date, Rebuilding Together has engaged more than 48,000 committed volunteers and 6,400 skilled trades professionals in its home repair services.  Together, they’ve improved more than 2,100 homes and nearly 40 county nonprofit facilities and community spaces.

“This year’s tournament was a huge success, bringing both long-time and new RTMC supporters together to golf for a great cause – safe, secure, and healthy housing. The day was gorgeous and the game play was strong; in fact, this year’s participants had such a good time and were so generous that more than half of the teams have committed to next year’s event,” said RTMC Development Director Aaron Gonzales.

This year’s participants enjoyed a variety of competitions in addition to the 18-hole scramble. Activities included a putting contest where the winner sunk the 50 foot put twice, a men’s and women’s long-drive contest and “beat the pro” competition with 2013 Re/Max World Long Drive Champion Heather LeMasters.  A complete list of the games and winners are below:

  • Closest to the Pin (Hole #7): Rick Berube
  • Longest Drive (Hole #16): Women- Pimpich Suphaphon, Men- Tom Cavazos
  • Straightest Drive (Hole #2): Ron Serabian
  • Putting Champion: Carl Vail
  • Team Winners:
    • 3rd Place Team: Bob Billig, Kevin McGovern, Joe Salisbury, George Magas (RSM US LLP)
    • 2nd Place Team, Bob King, Leonard Proctor, Phil Cantor, Mike Friemand
    • 1st place Team: Steve Welsh, Scott Waiter, Rick Berube, Brian Bartley (Standard Solar)

RTMC thanks it’s enthusiastic golfers and generous sponsors for investing in its work through the 24th annual tournament. We can’t wait to see you back next year!

To learn more about RTMC and ways to get involved, visit www.rebuildingtogethermc.org or contact us at info@rebuildingtogethermc.org.

About Us:

Rebuilding Together Montgomery County (RTMC) is a safe and healthy housing organization that believes community starts at home. RTMC works in partnership with local government, nonprofits, and corporate partners to provide safety repairs, accessibility modifications and energy efficiency upgrades to the homes of low-income residents throughout Montgomery County. The repairs and links to community resources offered by RTMC prevent homelessness, preserve affordable housing, and provide safe and independent living for our community’s most vulnerable residents. Additionally, our work revitalizes and stabilizes vulnerable neighborhoods and communities across the county.

Media Contact:

Aaron Gonzales, Director of Development
301-947-9400, x101
agonzales@rebuildingtogethermc.org

RTMC’s Executive Director to Receive The Daily Record’s Leading Women Award

For Immediate Release

Gaithersburg, MD, (October 21, 2016) – Rebuilding Together Montgomery County (RTMC) is proud to announce that its Executive Director, Christina Betancourt Johnson, has been selected to receive one of The Daily Record’s 2016 Leading Women Awards.

The Daily Record’s Leading Women awards honor 50 women who are 40 years of age or younger for the accomplishments they have made thus far in their careers.  A panel of previous Top 100 women and Leading Women winners selected the honorees based on their professional experience, community involvement and commitment to inspiring change.

As quoted by Mr. Bruce Bereano, attorney and lobbyist in Annapolis, “I believe Christina is a leader and will continue in life as such and as a mentor and role model for other young people that come to know and work with her.”

According to Brigid Howe, Executive Director of Nonprofit Montgomery, “The county’s nonprofit sector is fortunate that Christina is such a strong and dynamic leader.  Not only does she lead Rebuilding Together Montgomery County in providing important home repair services to vulnerable residents, but she also serves as Board president of Nonprofit Montgomery.  I appreciate her enthusiasm, sense of humor and commitment to the community.”

The Daily Record launched the Leading Women awards in 2010 to recognize the next generation of Maryland’s women leaders.  With the announcement of this year’s winners, 350 women will have received the award since its founding.

“It’s a privilege to be recognized by The Daily Record and previous awardees as a Leading Woman.  The honor is owed, in large part, to the community of peers, staff, family and mentors that keep me humble and focused while serving our residents, our businesses and our region,” says awardee Christina Betancourt Johnson.

Nominees for Leading Women were asked to complete an application that outlined their education and career history, examples of mentoring, career-related officer and board memberships in professional, business or trade organizations, volunteer involvement in civic and nonprofit organizations, awards and honors, professional accomplishments, and commitment to inspiring change in their organization or the community.

“The Daily Record’s 2016 Leading Women are truly inspirational. Their professional accomplishments, community involvement and commitment to inspiring change exemplifies why they are Leading Women in Maryland,” said Suzanne Fischer-Huettner, publisher of The Daily Record. “They excel to high levels professionally and personally, and The Daily Record congratulates them on this award.”

The 2016 Leading Women awards will be presented Dec. 5 at a reception and dinner starting at 5:30 p.m. at The Westin, 100 Westgate Circle in Annapolis. Winners will be profiled in a special magazine that will be inserted into the Dec. 6 issue of The Daily Record and available online at www.TheDailyRecord.com.

For more information about sponsorships and tickets for The Daily Record’s 2016 Leading Women awards, visit www.TheDailyRecord.com

 

About Us:

Rebuilding Together Montgomery County (RTMC) is a safe and healthy housing organization that believes community starts at home. RTMC works in partnership with local government, nonprofits, and corporate partners to provide safety repairs, accessibility modifications and energy efficiency upgrades to the homes of low-income residents throughout Montgomery County. The repairs and links to community resources offered by RTMC prevent homelessness, preserve affordable housing, and provide safe and independent living for our community’s most vulnerable residents. Additionally, our work revitalizes and stabilizes vulnerable neighborhoods and communities across the county.

 

Media Contact:

Aaron Gonzales, Development Director

301-947-9400, x101

agonzales@rebuildingtogethermc.org

 

About The Daily Record

For more than 127 years, The Daily Record has provided trusted legal, business and government information to Maryland readers. In addition to the daily newspaper published five days a week, The Daily Record publishes its website, www.TheDailyRecord.com; five blogs – Business Buzz, Eye on Annapolis, Generation J.D., Ground Up and On the Record; six e-newsletters – Insider, Annapolis Insider, Auction Notices, Maryland Family Law Update,  Legal Jobs and Path to Excellence; its Path to Excellence – A Women’s Guide to Business magazine nine times a year; and a variety of special publications on topics of interest to Maryland business and legal professionals.

The Daily Record also honors leading Marylanders through eight annual awards events:  Maryland’s Top 100 Women, Influential Marylanders, 20 in Their Twenties, VIP List, Most Admired CEOs, Innovator of the Year, Leadership in Law and Leading Women.

Residents Feel Sense of Pride after RTMC and World Bank Group Renovates Homeless Shelter

World Bank/Montgomery County Coalition for the Homeless

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On September 29th, the Montgomery County Coalition for the Homeless Men’s Shelter got a much-needed facility facelift to enhance both the aesthetic of the building and renovate its heavily used common spaces. Since its founding in 1990, the shelter has provided both short and long-term solutions to homeless men in the form of emergency shelter and permanent supportive housing. Thanks to the World Bank volunteers and the RTMC team, this facility will continue to provide shelter for years to come.

The Men’s Shelter at the Montgomery County Coalition for the Homeless is a remarkable space, serving about 700 residents each year. During the winter months, known as hypothermia season, the shelter has the capacity to reach up to 230 residents at once. The facility has been open since 2000, and has seen 16 years of serving residents at this high rate. Throughout these past 16 years, the building experienced extensive wear and tear that the dedicated staff at MCCH could not repair on their own.

Of chief concern was the main men’s bathroom, which was in urgent need of critical repairs. After years of high volume use, the restroom facility was not what it once was. The restroom floors had been damaged by raw sewage leakage and the toilets were inoperable.  The entire space needed a deep-clean and the walls needed to be re-painted. This is the largest bathroom in the facility and because of the condition that it was in prior to starting the project, it was hardly ever used.

The shelter was also in need of some cosmetic repairs, such as painting the walls, cleaning, and organizing to brighten up the space, making it more inviting to residents. There was plenty of work to be done and the volunteer group from the World Bank came ready to work hard!

The 30 committed and energized World Bank volunteers arrived bright and early on a dreary Thursday morning to begin work. The group gathered for a brief introduction and team meeting before breaking into the cleaning and repair gear. The largest group of volunteers spent the day making repairs to the bathroom, and painting the walls inside the bathroom and the surrounding hallways. Another group focused on deep cleaning and reorganizing the kitchen, tossing out expired food for a safer and healthier kitchen.  Others focused on cleaning the laundry room, building storage shelves for the area, and reorganizing the professional clothing closet. With each passing hour, the facility transformed, and by the end of the day, the residents were all speaking of the great improvements made to their new space.

Montgomery County Coalition for the Homeless’ Executive Director, Susie Sinclair-Smith, was overwhelmed with the building’s new look. She shared that some of the repair work that was done made her reflect on her life, and how lucky she feels.  “To have you come in and in one day, or a couple days, transform our men’s bathroom into a dignified area – it made me think how lucky I am to have my own bathroom… and to have a bathroom that really meets their needs is great.”

Susie was also pleased with the kitchen clean-up, explaining that it is one of the most highly used spaces in the facility. Thousands of meals are donated to the men’s shelter at MCCH yearly and volunteers come in frequently to serve meals to the residents, illustrating how the shelter builds and strengthens community by putting the needs of our most vulnerable county residents first. Susie speaks of a particular transition that occurs during mealtime, saying that “men have gone from being invisible to being in the shelter and being served”, and how much that does for their emotional well-being.

Shelter residents felt that sense of community throughout the World Bank’s volunteer day. Kevin, one of the residents of the men’s shelter, was thankful for the bathroom renovation, “I know the bathroom is renovated and that’s a big help. I rarely used that bathroom you renovated [because of the deteriorated condition], and now I see them [both restrooms] as being equal.” He also mentioned the importance of the deep clean of the kitchen, stating that many of the residents have health issues and need their meals to come from a space that is as healthy as possible. Healthy and safely prepared foods not only nurture our bodies but our souls as well.

When the day was finished, I had the chance to sit down with World Bank team member Nana Maiga as she shared her thoughts on the experience. She had never been involved in a project like this before and was thrilled to have the chance to participate. Not only was she grateful for the impact the World Bank had on the shelter, she was simply glad to be giving back. “I’m very impressed with the work you do, and it’s such a positive environment. You can tell it’s important… to treat people with dignity. I can’t wait [to] come back next year!”

All told, the project day was tremendously successful! In addition to being important for the health and safety of the men’s shelter, the impact of the day is undoubtedly lasting for residents. Seeing a team of volunteers come in to help care for the facility and the residents was truly uplifting for many. Kevin spoke of the day’s significance, “as far as people coming in and doing things like this, emotionally it helps just to see people coming in that care.”

Thanks to the Montgomery County Coalition for the Homeless for inviting us into their space and to the World Bank for their commitment and dedication to our neighbors in need!