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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).

Fire Prevention Week Oct. 8- 16

In a fire, seconds count. Seconds can mean the difference between residents of our community escaping safely from a fire or having their lives end in tragedy.

Gaithersburg, October 9, 2017 – Consider this scenario: It’s 2 o’clock in the morning. you and your family are fast asleep when you awaken to the smoke alarm sounding and the smell of smoke. What do you to? If you and your family don’t have a plan in place, it could jeopardize your safety, or even prove deadly.

In a typical home fire, you may have as little as one to two minutes to escape safely from the time the smoke alarm sounds. That’s why home escape planning is so critical in a fire situation. It ensures that everyone in the household knows how to use that small window of time wisely.

FPW 2017 Escape Plan Grid“Developing and practicing a home escape plan is like building muscle memory,” said Christina B. Johnson, Executive Director of Rebuilding Together Montgomery County. “That pre-planning is what everyone will draw upon to snap into action and escape as quickly as possible in the event of a fire.”

This year’s Fire Prevention Week theme, “Every Second Counts: Plan 2 Ways Out!” works to better educate the public about the critical importance of developing a home escape plan and practicing it. Rebuilding Together Montgomery COunty relies on it’s strong partnerships with community partners such as The Friedson Group and The Montgomery County Fire Department to educate and protect the homes of our county’s most vulnerable residents. RTMC also is working in coordination with the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), the official sponsor of the Fire Prevention Week for more than 90 years, to reinforce those potentially life-saving messages.

Fire Prevention Week is October 8-14, 2017.

“Home escape planning is one of the most basic but fundamental elements of home fire safety, and can truly make the difference between life and death in a fire situation,” said Lorraine Carli, NFPA’s vice president of Outreach and Advocacy.

In support of Fire Prevention Week, Rebuilding Together Montgomery County encourages all households to develop a plan together and practice it. A home escape plan includes working smoke alarms on every level of the home, in every bedroom, and near all sleeping areas. It also includes two ways out of every room, usually a door and a window, with a clear path to an outside meeting place (like a tree, light pole, or mailbox) that’s a safe distance from the home.

NFPA, RTMC and it’s local partners The Friedson Group and The Montgomery County Fire Department,  offer these additional tips and recommendations for developing and practicing a home escape plan:

  • Draw a map of your home with all members of your household, marking two exits from each room and a path to the outside from each exit.
  • Practice your home fire drill twice a year. Conduct one at night and one during the day with everyone in your home, and practice using different ways out.
  • Teach children how to escape on their own in case you can’t help them.
  • Make sure the number of your home is clearly marked and easy for the fire department to find.
  • Close doors behind you as you leave — this may slow the spread of smoke, heat, and fire.
  • Once you get outside, stay outside. Never go back inside a burning building.

For more information about Fire Prevention Week activities in Montgomery County, visit .  To learn more about this year’s Fire Prevention Week campaign, “Every Second Counts: Plan 2 Ways Out” and home escape planning, visit firepreventionweek.org.

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.




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
  • 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


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:



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.


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.


Citrin Creates Value with Teamwork

June 2017 (Gaithersburg)-One of the things that we love about Citrin Cooperman, a national accounting and tax services firm, is that they always take the “team effort approach”. And on June 5th, their team effort was obvious as they worked in dreary weather to repair and beautify the home of Ms. Wade.

“I can’t thank Rebuilding Together and these volunteers enough. I’ve managed to live with multiple disabilities and in all my years I’ve never had anyone do so much for me. It really is a blessing and I am grateful that you’ve been able to fix up my ‘forever home’,” said Ms. Wade.

Because of Citrin’s investments of money and employees’ time, we were able to make significant improvements to the home of Ms. Wade – installing new perimeter fencing,* resurfacing the wrap-around deck, installing the new dishwasher, re-wiring of the well pump to restore pluming and water to the home, updating landscaping and installing new light fixtures for safe entry into and out of the home.  Thanks to the firms commitment to the community, Ms. Wade now will be able to reside in a safer, healthier, and happier home for years to come.

*A special thanks also goes to Commercial Restorations of Germantown who donated in-kind power washing services to prep Ms. Wade’s deck for refinishing.

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!

Making a Life by What We Give – Wells Fargo 2017


July 2017 (Gaithersburg, MD)- Thanks to the generous financial support and volunteer service of a group of Wells Fargo employees, RTMC clients, Ed and Diane, have a safer and healthier home they can depend on for years to come.

When Ed and Diane first came to Rebuilding Together, they had experienced significant water damage in their home, caused by both a roof leak and a lingering plumbing leak on their main level. These leaks presented not only an eyesore in cracked ceilings and water stains, but they also caused health hazards with mold having grown behind their drywall and across their basement carpeting.

The Wells Fargo funding enabled us to hire subcontractors to address the roof leaks and chimney repair. They also cleared their plumbing drain lines and replaced their electrical panel, GFCI’s in the kitchen and bathroom, and drywall replacement throughout the basement.

Committed Wells Fargo volunteers, representing their Maryland business units, completed the painting work throughout the first level and basement, cleared their overgrown patio area, removed carpet throughout the basement, and re-painted their entire fence.

Homeowners Ed and Diane were engaged throughout the project, assisting where they could, getting to know the volunteers and humbly thanking everyone at every turn.

It was a beautiful day of service and we cannot thank Wells Fargo enough for supporting RTMC and those we serve.

“We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.” Winston Churchill.

RTMC’s 27th Annual National Rebuilding Day Provides Services to 18 Families and 1 Nonprofit in Montgomery County

On April 29, 2017 Rebuilding Together Montgomery County joined Rebuilding Together affiliates across the nation to celebrate our signature volunteer event, National Rebuilding Day. This year, Rebuilding Together Montgomery County had 27 volunteer groups, engaging more than 600 volunteers, completing home repair and revitalization projects that will provide county residents with safer and healthier living spaces they can depend on for years to come. Each volunteer gave generously of their time, talents, and resources to make sure that no project was left unfinished.

Volunteer groups came from all corners of the county representing corporations such as Ecobeco, religious institutions such as Temple Beth Ami and St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Church, associations such as the Greater Capital Area Association of Realtors, and many more. Some of our volunteer groups teamed up, making their work all the more impactful.

The Pre-work and Project Planning:

In early spring, committed teams express their interest to adopt a home and the family as they conduct a complete renovation for the family.  We then match each group- carefully considering the size of their volunteer team, the family’s needs, and our volunteer’s skills- to a low income Montgomery County homeowner. Next, we partner with them as they engage the family to better understand their needs.  Once that step is complete, we set about to enthusiastically and skillfully create a scope of work that addresses both health and safety issues in a home as well as improving the aesthetic of the home for years to come.  Working over the course of several weeks, volunteers and staff are able to develop repair and revitalization plans that will not only change the lives of our homeowners, but that will also stabilize their communities and provide an unforgettable experience for each volunteer that works with us on project day!

This year, we were able to provide services to 18 Montgomery County homeowners. Many thanks for the help and support of our dedicated, thorough and kind-hearted volunteers!

Project Day:

When project day arrived, groups came out bright and early to begin work. Project sites were spread out all over the county – from Takoma Park and Boyds to Dickerson and Rockville, we truly served our entire community!

Volunteers planned many substantial projects including HVAC replacement, full kitchen renovations, porch repairs, water heater and kitchen appliance replacements, attic insulation installments, chimney repair, garage door replacement, roof repairs, and bathroom retrofitting to name a few. While the major repairs served to make homes safer and healthier, volunteers also worked on projects to beautify and brighten up clients’ homes such as landscaping and painting. Each project was designed to enable homeowners in need to remain in their homes for years to come without having to worry about the very real possibility of being displaced and having no place else to turn for shelter. This important work improved the lives of our homeowners and volunteers alike and we cannot be more grateful to have had the opportunity to work with so many volunteers as they developed deep community connections in the process.

The energy and spirit encompassing each volunteer project were palpable. Complete with laughs, hard work, and great memories, this year’s National Rebuilding Day is certainly one for the books! A virtual round of applause is order for our amazing community partners below, and we invite you to join us in this community-wide movement next year.

Good Shepherd Lutheran Church ∙ GCAAR ∙ Donohoe ∙ St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Church ∙

Gaithersburg Presbyterian Church ∙ St. Park Presbyterian Church ∙ Bethesda United Church of Christ ∙

Holy Cross Catholic Church ∙ Faith United Methodist Church ∙ Ecobeco ∙ DeVere Insulation ∙

Tucker’s Air Conditioning, Heating & Plumbing ∙ United Rentals ∙ Grace United Methodist Church ∙

Sandy Spring Bank ∙ DG Liu Contractor ∙ Cedar Lane Unitarian Universalist Church ∙

Ashton United Methodist Church ∙ RBC Wealth Management ∙ Temple Beth Ami ∙ Shaare Torah ∙

Christ Church Parish Kensington ∙ Revere Bank ∙ NCCoE ∙ B’nai Israel ∙

Helping Hands Poolesville ∙ Neelsville Presbyterian Church