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Spotlight on a [Re]Builder: Andra Henning

This month RTMC caught up with one of our passionate RTMC Board Member, Andra Henning, pictured above with her son. Benjamin. The photos above were taken as part of their yearly Easter selfie tradition! We are excited to share more about the vital role Andra plays in our organization and discuss how her unique experiences set us up for success. Andra is the Director of Professional Development and Clinical Education for Therapy at Adventist Healthcare. 
RTMC: Tell us more about you and your role at Adventist HealthCare and how that ties in with RTMC’s mission and service to our community:

AH: So first of all, I am a mom. I have an adopted son named Benjamin who is seven years old. He’s like my little sunshine. He’s my dynamo. I also have a twin sibling who lives in the area. I’m in ministry at my church, so working at Adventist HealthCare, a faith-based organization, has really suited me and is really rewarding. And as an occupational therapist by training, I love that we help folks recover after major life events and support them as they transition back to as much independence within the community as possible.

I became acquainted with Rebuilding Together in 2000, with the Baltimore County affiliate. I was their volunteer coordinator for a few years. I would encourage others to volunteer their time to go out and conduct home assessments and I’d help the contractors look at the house from a functional standpoint, not just a structural standpoint. We’d build rapport so quickly with the homeowners, allowing us to really get in there to figure out ways to improve their day-to-day lives.

As my career progressed, I moved into leadership but never left my love for keeping patients safe at home. As a manager, and then director for Adventist HealthCare Rehabilitation, I supported home evaluations and family training by the therapy staff. 

In 2019, I joined the Board of Directors at Rebuilding Together Montgomery County. When my patients discharge from the rehab hospital, I trust in RTMC to collaborate with us to look at the determinants of health and help the patient age successfully at home. It’s become a really great partnership. My RTMC Board service has given me an opportunity to grow as a leader. Being on the Board with all the other folks with diverse experiences has also broadened my perspective on leadership. 

RTMC: What is the most memorable moment you’ve had while collaborating on an act of service with RTMC?

AH: Recently, I conducted three home assessments for RTMC clients. I hadn’t done that in a while and I was able to meet with the homeowners and talk with them about how they manage in their homes. It was wonderful to see how people really open up to you when they are in need – they’re very trusting. To be able to sit down with someone and listen to their story, hear about their health conditions and learn what their needs are is very rewarding. It’s a good feeling to know that you helped a vulnerable homeowner safely stay in their home. It is very empowering to the clients, but it’s very rewarding to us as well

On the RTMC Board, I’m on the Program Committee. We look at how we can be more efficient and better serve the community. As a clinician, I like that I can share my perspective of what it means to age successfully at home.

RTMC: You have a well-rounded expertise on the whole operation! Tell us a little more about occupational therapy and what initially attracted you to that field. 

AH: I am a person of faith and so I love to serve and volunteer through my church. I love working with seniors, food banks and other charity organizations. I was an intelligence officer in the US Army for four years. When I realized I didn’t want to remain in the military as a career, I spent time reflecting on what I like to do and I determined that serving in my church was something that kept me really engaged. I also decided to pursue occupational therapy as I saw it as something I would find rewarding. In occupational therapy, you can serve patients from pediatrics to geriatrics. You can work in a hospital or in-home health or as an administrator. This career has allowed me to combine many things I love to do. 

RTMC: How else would you want to see RTMC develop moving forward, especially in a post-pandemic world?

AH: I think there is a great future for RTMC moving forward. Maury Peterson coming on and her leadership style has really energized the staff. I was glad I could support the team on their recent successful grant application to the Adventist HealthCare Foundation. I also like that we have an increasing focus on determinants of health. While that is a buzz phrase right now, it is a fact that there are determinants that impact how successfully someone can age in place. For the future, I’m hoping we continue to pursue partnerships to provide wraparound services for our homeowners. 

I would love for RTMC to be a hub, where we partner with other organizations that have an interest in keeping seniors and those with disabilities in their homes and keeping them safe. Access to social services and other healthcare services is really important. And considering the conditions that some of these people are in, they do have lasting effects. We need to be able to connect these people with more bridges to wellness. I love that our approach focuses on ensuring vulnerable homeowners are in the best possible environment that meets their needs rather than just finishing a repair and moving on.

RTMC: Knowing people like you that are passionate within our community is very inspiring. On this team, everyone is really happy to play their part even though we all have such different skill sets as a team. Each of our unique areas of expertise is like our superpowers. 

AH: I love the idea of a “superpower”. We all have our gifts and talents to share. In this case, we are working together and tapping into what everyone has to give to help promote safety for all in our community. Thank you so much. It’s an honor to serve and then also to be featured.

Spotlight on a [Re]Builder: Roger Rothman

Roger Rothman (pictured above on the far right) is a treasure in our organization and a longtime friend of RTMC. A psychotherapist by profession and a DMV resident for 46 years, Roger moved to Montgomery County in 1978 and became involved with RTMC soon after. For more than a quarter of a century, Roger’s dedication to furthering our mission and serving vulnerable homeowners has been astounding. Over the years, Roger has served in a variety of volunteer capacities, including House Captain, RTMC Board Member and Board President. He leads volunteers from his synagogue, Temple Beth Ami, every year during National Rebuilding Day and,together, they have helped countless neighbors in need over the years. Roger even sends out an annual year end appeal to his friends and family to encourage them to donate to RTMC. Thanks to Roger’s efforts, thousands of funds have been raised to support our mission. 

We spoke with Roger last week about his instrumental role in RTMC, here is what he had to say:

Q: How did you become involved with RTMC?

RR: I became involved with my synagogue, Temple Beth Ami, located in Rockville and they have a very large social action and social justice focus. Through them, I connected with RTMC, which was at the time called Christmas in April. There were many different service projects. For one of them, we had a group to repair someone’s house- and that sounded like a really cool opportunity to try something working with the temple but also in the community to do something worthwhile. And so I went down there and worked for about 4-5 hours on a Sunday afternoon in ‘92 or ‘93 and I really enjoyed it. I am a psychotherapist, and sometimes in my work the results are not evident immediately. It takes time. But by the end of the day this job was done. I could walk out of that house and say that I really helped, and there is a tangible result of it. That really interested me and hooked me into the idea. 

Q: What positions have you held within RTMC?

RR: Every subsequent year I would sign up to volunteer. The current House Captain at the time noticed my enthusiasm and picked up on my interest in volunteering. That’s when I became Assistant House Captain for a few years in the end of the 90’s. Then around 2001, I assumed the position of House Captain. Now I have held that position for over 20 years. I was also a RTMC Board member from 2009-2011. 

Q: What do you like about volunteering with us?

RR: My skills in construction and planning are marginal. What has made this really work for me has been finding people who fit the roles we need within the group. They do very good and complicated work on very needed projects. I’m not a trained carpenter or plumber, but I’ve been good at finding skilled people. People who I would trust to fix my own house. I’ve also been able to connect us with strong leaders and donors. We’ve been able to get material and monetary donations to complete heavy projects. We have been completing heavy projects for 15 years and are known as one of the groups who can get heavy projects done. 

Q: How would you like to see RTMC develop moving forward?

RR: Normally at the beginning of March my Co-Captains and I would be going to homes, talking to homeowners, and figuring out how to put projects together. This time last year we were at a gentleman’s house trying to see what we could do to help him but the project was shut down. What I’ve been thinking about is how we will be able to do this moving forward. On a given Sunday with the synagogue we would get 30-40 people to volunteer but we can’t do that currently. We’re going to figure out what to do and it’ll have to be different. 

Something I would like to see in the future of RTMC is working on finding as many green approaches to home repairs as possible to help people reduce their utility bills and reduce other matters that we can prevent financially from happening to them. I’ve walked into houses where people have astronomical utility bills because they don’t have enough insulation, or they have broken pipes and leaks. 

In Judaism we have a call to protect the planet through these green initiatives and charitable acts. Tikkun Olam is a tenet of Judaism. It  is a Hebrew phrase that translates to world repair, or repair of the world. One way that I might understand it is world repair through human actions in all communities. It’s not just world repair in the Jewish community, its world repair in the community of all societies. 

Q: What keeps you coming back to support and volunteer with us?

The thing that keeps me coming back goes in two directions. One of them being that i have never worked with a better group of volunteers than what we have. These are people who would do anything. I sent a guy into a pit underneath a house to install a pipe about 10 years ago that was the most disgusting area you had ever seen, but this is an example of what our people are willing to do. We have a really great team of planners who have a good time doing this and do a lot of good stuff. 

The other thing is that we have done some fantastic repairs on houses that were in really dire need of service. Sometimes we bring in high schoolers who are used to middle class surroundings. When they come into houses that haven’t had heat or are in disrepair, you can tell they’ve never seen anything like it and it changes their perspective. Coming back every year is two fold. It is very rewarding to see these projects work out and be successful but we also see a huge impact on the homeowners and volunteers involved. Everyone is incredibly grateful. That’s what brings my volunteers back too. In order to have good volunteers you have to have a good volunteer experience, which we have. Everyone is coming from a different background but we come together for a collaborative community building experience. 

Spotlight on a [Re]Builder: Pazit Aviv

RTMC is fortunate to have Pazit Aviv (pictured above with her family) as a member of our Board of Directors. As the Village Coordinator at the Montgomery County Department of Health and Human Services Aging and Disability Services, Pazit has brought her deep knowledge and expertise to our mission and has become an invaluable resource.
Pazit is a true collaborator in the community and helps to bring people and groups together in service to the most vulnerable members of our community. Using a neighbor to neighbor approach, Pazit is a driving force in helping vulnerable neighbors age in place within Montgomery County.

When did you become involved with RTMC and why? 
I am originally from Israel but I moved to MoCo in 2008 with my husband. I first became involved with RTMC through my work as a member of the City of Gaithersburg Hoarding Task Force. In my role as Village Coordinator for Montgomery County, I help to build coalitions that enhance capacities of nonprofit and government organization to facilitate aging in community. The work I do now with our community aligns directly with RTMC’s mission, which is to protect vulnerable residents and help them to remain safely in their homes.

How does our mission resonate with you?
Aging in place is a human right. Montgomery County specifically has an increasing aging population and I am happy to play a part to keep vulnerable neighbors safe

In what ways would you want to see RTMC develop in the future? 
I think we should figure out a way increase who is eligible for repairs. We could arrange contractors with homeowners who may pay a reduced amount for the repair, but it would guarantee good and trustworthy service.

How has your experience been as a board member for RTMC?
We have been through some difficulties together and that has helped shape us into a cohesive team. 

Is there a favorite event or day-of-service with RTMC that you have been involved with?
A few years ago, there was an RTMC community day of service where everyone came together to help a struggling homeowner fix a barn. The social aspect of community gathering was impactful, and it was a multigenerational event. It was inspiring to see our community show up for each other and work together to help someone in need. 

RTMC’s MLK Day On with Ms. S

The RTMC team with our neighbor, Ms. S!

Martin Luther King Day is known as a day of service (a day on, not a day off) to encourage volunteerism. This past Monday the team at Rebuilding Together Montgomery County took on the task of serving Ms. S, a neighbor in need of home clutter removal—recycling, trash and donations. We loaded up two trucks worth of items Ms. S had long intended to clear out. She now has much more space to move around her home, and a significantly reduced risk of tripping on these items or hurting herself trying to move them.

While helping, the team learned about Ms. Smith’s 35 years of working for the Treasury Department and her experience crafting two 11-tier wedding cakes right from her own home! Client outreach coordinator, Joni Keaton, stated “Ms. Smith is an incredibly sweet woman. One of the first things she emphasized needing help with was clearing out boxes and clutter that had piled up, and we stepped in to make sure this got done. Even with masks on, you could tell everyone was smiling the entire time!” Thanks to their help, Ms. Smith’s home is safer.

“Everybody can be great… because anybody can serve”

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Spotlight on a [Re]Builder: Bob King

RTMC is grateful to the long-time support of Bob King, former RTMC Board President and longtime volunteer, donor and golf committee chair. Bob has been instrumental to RTMC’s success in so many ways. We asked Bob why our mission is important to him.

Here’s what he had to say:

Tell us about your general professional background, what do you do for a living and how long have you been doing it?
I worked for 30 years at the World Bank.  By training, I am an economist (PhD, GWU) and did global econometric forecasting for about 20 years.  I then managed the World Bank’s communications team (External Affairs) and later was a senior advisor to the Chief Information Officer.  I retired from the Bank in 2012.  Since that time, I have been involved in many areas of volunteer work as well as with non-profit boards.  I provide pro bono support to both boards and Executive Directors in helping them to grow their organizations.

2. How long have you been involved with RTMC? 
I became involved with RTMC in late 2013.

3. How did you get started with RTMC and what have your different roles been with the organization throughout the years? 
Part of my team in External Affairs at the World Bank was the Community Outreach team, which was run by the mother of the then RTMC Executive Director.  When I retired and was looking for boards to serve on, the connection was made. 

I served as Board President for about 2.5 years, have chaired various committees (communications, golf and finance come to mind), and managed the process of developing a board strategy for the organization. After finishing my second term in 2019, I remained on the Finance Committee, served as chair of the Golf Committee in 2020, and volunteered as an advisor to both the board and the ED.

4. Why is our mission important to you and why are you so motivated to be involved with, and support, the organization?
Safe and healthy housing is at the center of so much of what impacts peoples’ everyday lives.  It is not only an important health factor (not having mold in a house, for example), but can be essential to mental wellbeing, as unhealthy living space can cause undue stress and family strife.  In addition, much of our work has been to make homes more accessible to the owners’ and their families and it is such a joy to be able to see someone be able to leave their house easily for the first time in a long time.

For me, the motivation started with students. I do a lot of nonprofit work with organizations that work with kids and youth and it moved me to see that some students couldn’t get to school because of health reasons caused by their living conditions.  The work RTMC does with veterans and the disabled is also highly motivating.

During the time of COVID, when state and local officials have been telling us to stay home where it is safer, the response must be “you can’t be safer at home if you aren’t safe at home”.  Our work is needed more than ever.

5. Is there a favorite event or day-of-service with RTMC that you have been involved with?
Any day that I can be working in a house or visiting a home being worked on by others, is a special day for me.  I especially like being able to take people – friends, politicians, reporters – out to see the work being done and to meet the homeowners and volunteers.

Spotlight on a [Re]Builder: Dave Modi, RTMC Board Treasurer

Dave Modi has been living RTMC’s mission of repairing homes, revitalizing communities and rebuilding lives for more than a quarter of a century. Dave first became involved as a board member at the national level when the organization was still known as Christmas in April. For 14 years, Dave served on the national board in a variety of capacities. He joined the RTMC Board in 2019, where he now serves as Treasurer.

Over the decades, Dave has sponsored and helped repair dozens of homes across Montgomery County. When his children were growing up, Dave loved to involve his kids and their friends in National Rebuilding Day projects. When asked what keeps him coming back year after year Dave said, “it’s the people I have met and worked with – they are amazing. Seeing those smiles of satisfaction on homeowners’ faces makes it all worthwhile. I feel lucky to be able to do it.”

RTMC sure feels lucky to have Dave on our team. Thank you, Dave, for the tremendous difference you continue to make in our community!

Veterans Day Profile: John R.

Rebuilding Together Montgomery County (RTMC) believes that all veterans in our community deserve a safe and healthy home to live in. However, the sad reality is that after serving our country and risking their lives for our freedoms, many veterans are left to retire in unsafe, insecure, and unstable homes all across Montgomery County. 

It is our mission to change that outcome.

This Veterans Day, we are happy to introduce you to John R., a Montgomery County resident, veteran, friend and recent client of RTMC. When John reached out to us, his home had a leaking roof that was in dire need of replacement. Thanks to our Safe and Healthy Homes Program, and generous donations from the local community, John received a brand new roof. “Rebuilding Together’s work relieved a lot of stress for me at a time when I was dealing with many health and financial challenges,” John says. “It was very important for me to stay in my home, where I’ve lived for 34 years.”

Veterans Day Profile

John in uniform.

RTMC takes pride in helping homeowners like John who have lived in Montgomery County for most of their lives. At the age of two, he and his family moved to Silver Spring where his father opened a barbershop located on Colesville Road, right next to the AFI Silver Theater. “Montgomery County was much different back then,” he says. “You could get a haircut at my father’s shop for 25 cents, then go next door to AFI to see a movie for 10 cents!”

After graduating high school, John was drafted into the U.S. Army and went on to the Army Signal Corps School where he graduated fourth in his class. He would quickly grow the ranks and eventually became a sergeant. John recalls that “they wanted to make me a master sergeant, but I was having issues with my back and did not extend my service.”

Both John and RTMC feel strongly about Veterans Day and believe it’s an opportunity to reflect on the sacrifices made by those who served. John adds, “Many were drafted, served, and lived, but many were also drafted and died. We should honor all branches of the military. Everyone who has served should be respected.”

Veterans Day Profile

John today.

RTMC still works closely with John and his family because there’s more work to be done, but our efforts have made a difference, and John is optimistic. “People helping each other in both small and large ways really does matter. You never know when you are going to need help. I am very grateful to all those that have helped me.”

It’s an honor to serve those who have served for us. John, who is now 88 years old, will be able to live the rest of his life in the house he’s long known as home. While John’s story shares our program’s success, many more veterans in Montgomery County still need our help. If you’re feeling inspired on this day of remembrance and reflection, we hope you will join us in honoring veteran homeowners in our community like John.

Happy Veterans Day!

RTMC’s Jerry Liu Recognized As the 2020 Rebuilding Together Volunteer of the Year

We are elated to share with you that Jerry Liu, a 30-year volunteer with Rebuilding Together Montgomery County, has been recognized as the 2020 Rebuilding Together Volunteer of the Year!

Jerry was chosen from nominees submitted by 120+ Rebuilding Together affiliates across the US.There is no one more deserving of this recognition than Jerry. In his three decades of service with RTMC, Jerry has proven himself to be a stellar and resourceful volunteer.

Jerry is truly a jack of all trades and has done everything from coordinating construction projects to providing ongoing counsel to our team. He’s served as a board member, a team captain, and a lead generator.

Jerry throughout the years.

Jerry maintains a humble and unassuming demeanor in his various roles, with a laser-focus dedication to helping the people he serves. He approaches his service with a smile, and he infects all of us with his positive energy and passion for a “neighbor-helping-neighbor” approach to solving community issues.

No one can count the number of hours Jerry has committed towards our cause. He’s given his all towards helping the low-income residents of Montgomery County. Jerry is the epitome of a community leader.

On behalf of everyone involved with RTMC, we congratulate Jerry on his recognition. We thank him for his efforts, and we look forward to working with him for many more years to come.

The Emanuel House is Finished!

Our project at the Emanuel House in Gaithersburg is wrapping up this week! This home will provide young adult mothers and their children with a permanent, supportive housing solution with guidance and support from other community partners as they work towards self-sufficiency. Through the work of professional contractors and volunteers donating countless hours, the house is now a home. We created separate “units” of bedrooms and a bathroom for each family and updated the common kitchen and living space for shared use. Volunteers installed new flooring, painted throughout the house, rebuilt the back decks, and addressed numerous handyman tasks to create a safe and welcoming environment for the families.

Now that our work is complete, the house is being decorated and furnished, and the first family will move in next week! It was an honor for us to have played a role in this fantastic project that will benefit the community for generations to come. Many thanks to our wonderful volunteers and partners for all the work and love that has gone into the Emanuel House.

We have many more projects that need our attention. We can rebuild more homes through your support and give our low-income neighbors a healthy and safe place to live. Please consider supporting our work.

Rebuilding Together Montgomery County names new Executive Director

Rebuilding Together Montgomery County (RTMC) announced today that nonprofit leader Maury Peterson has been named its new Executive Director. Peterson brings 25 years of domestic and international nonprofit, foundation and corporate philanthropy leadership experience to RTMC.

“Choosing the right person to lead Rebuilding Together Montgomery County is one of the most important decisions we make as a Board, and we are extraordinarily fortunate that Maury will be serving as our next Executive Director,” explained incoming Board President Nancy Floreen. “The Board is excited about the energy, passion, networks and national and international experience Maury brings to our organization, and we look forward to continuing our mission of repairing homes, revitalizing communities and rebuilding lives in Montgomery County. She added, “It is particularly important during this time of COVID-19 that we be in the strongest position possible to address the extraordinary need for safe and healthy homes.”

Peterson has a passion for and a long history of working with vulnerable populations.

“I am honored and humbled to join such a committed team and Board at Rebuilding Together Montgomery County. I look forward to building on the great work to provide free critical home repair, accessibility modifications and energy efficiency upgrades for Montgomery County’s most vulnerable low-income residents – seniors, veterans, individuals with disabilities and families with young children,” said Peterson.

Most recently, Peterson was the Executive Director at the Northwest Arkansas Children’s Shelter in Bentonville, Arkansas. The Children’s Shelter is the largest shelter in Arkansas serving children who are victims of abuse, abandonment and neglect. She also work in Boston for 16 years as a nonprofit and corporate philanthropy leader. She served as Executive Director at Parenting Journey supporting at-risk families and spent nearly 12 years as head of the Grand Circle Foundation. During her tenure, she awarded $50 million in grants to schools and nonprofits in the US and in more than 30 countries. Peterson also held positions serving a variety of vulnerable populations in Mauritius, Switzerland, Rwanda and Zimbabwe, and served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Sierra Leone. She earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from Indiana University and a Master of Science degree in Social Work from the University of Texas at Austin.

Maury Peterson can be reached at MPeterson@rebuildingtogethermc.org or 301-947-9400 ext. 100