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Thanks for Making Our First 25 Years Successful

RTMC client and keynote speaker Ms. Kimberly Sorenson addresses the audience

On March 24th, Rebuilding Together Montgomery County celebrated more than two decades of investing in families, homes, and communities across Montgomery County with nearly 300 guests at RTMC’s 25th Anniversary Breakfast.

Sandra Hernandez, National COO of Rebuilding Together, and Dr. Robert King, RTMC board chairman, took to the podium as emcees at the event and guided us though an unforgettable collection of home repair, volunteer engagement and homeowner success stories. The guided tour down memory lane helped us all to see just how important the last 25 years of RTMC’s work have been to the county, to the community, and to the volunteers and sponsors who have made it all happen.

While attendees enjoyed a french toast breakfast, fresh fruit and sausage, several special guest spoke to RTMC’s strong merits and strategic partnerships. County Council President Nancy Floreen and Councilmembers Sidney Katz, Craig Rice, and Roger Berliner presented RTMC executive director Christina Betancourt Johnson with a proclamation that outlined RTMC’s significance and contributions to the County. “the work that Rebuilding Together does is critical. Your efforts help people maintain a safe, healthy and affordable place to live,” said Floreen.

Maryland Secretary of Housing and Community Development Kenneth Hope spoke to the great need across the county and the dire situations that vulnerable families face in their homes.

David Trone, CEO of Bethesda-based Total Wine & More, followed up with the importance of RTMC’s collaborative approach to engaging businesses, churches and nonprofits across the County. He then introduced the keynote speaker Kimberly Sorenson, an RTMC homeowner/client. When Sorenson took the stage and told her story, you could have heard a pin drop. She patiently recounted the challenges her family had to confront in dealing with her daughter’s battle with cancer and carefully told how RTMC made repairs to their home. According to Sorenson, “When I applied to RTMC for assistance…in addition to mold being a major factor, the heating and electrical systems were in various stages of disrepair. Smoke detectors were needed, as well as missing stair banisters and floor boards.  RTMC came into my home and fixed it up – addressing more than 20 issues,” said Sorenson. “I am forever grateful for the assistance that Rebuilding Together provided and because of you, I am here today.”

There was special tribute to our much-loved co-founder Gordon Hawk by The Honorable Connie Morella, who shared a few memories and reminded us of poet Edwin Markham’s famous admonition that none goes his way alone. Morella presented the Visionary Award to his wife, Page Browning Hawk and announced the new Hawk Handyman Program which was named in Gordon’s honor.

Last but not least, awards were given to 14 faith-based organizations 4 business partners and 5 individuals whose commitment to RTMC’s mission and our communities have been outstanding. The complete list of awardees is here.

The event closed with co-founder Jay Treadwell speaking to Mother Teresa’s quote: “I alone cannot change the world but I can cast a stone across the waters to create many ripples”. He reminded us that creating ripples is what Rebuilding Together Montgomery County is all about. Each RTMC supporter is a stone thrower. When we volunteer we encourage others to volunteer. When we invest money to the organization we multiply our money with RTMC’s ability to leverage our investment. When we help a client, we rebuild our community…one home at a time.

Many thanks to all of the event sponsors, event attendees, volunteers, donors and partner organizations who make our work possible. Our 25th Anniversary Breakfast raised a total of $50,000 to support RTMC’s mission. Fourteen thousand of that total came from individual donations–$5000 from a matching grant, with an amazing $9000 that our friends and supporters left in the miniature tool boxes in the centerpiece of each of the tables.

Thank you to all for your commitment and here’s to the promise of another successful 25 years!

View & Download Pictures Here 

View the 25th Anniversary Breakfast Video Here


Bill to Help Seniors with Property Taxes Introduced by County Council

taxcredit-stockphoto-260x199The Montgomery County Council introduced a bill that would provide seniors with tax relief and assist them with meeting their property tax obligations to the County.

The lead sponsors of Expedited Bill 10-16 are Council Vice President Roger Berliner, Councilmember Sidney Katz, and Councilmember Hans Riemer. The bill “would enable seniors 65 and older, with individual or combined gross incomes of $80,000 or less, to defer increases on property taxes on their principal residence until they sell their home. ”

The County Executive has requested that the council significantly increase property taxes, and the measure is intended to help offset the burden that the tax increase would create for older residents, who, for the most part, live on fixed income.

According to Council Vice President Berliner. “…We know that most seniors live on fixed incomes and they worry that property tax increases will force them out of their homes and out of the County. We want our seniors, the fastest growing demographic in our County, to be able to stay in their homes as long as possible. This legislation would promote that goal by giving seniors the option to defer increases on property taxes until they sell their home.”

Council President Nancy Floreen, and Councilmembers Marc Elrich, Nancy Navarro, and Craig Rice co-sponsored the bill.

April’s Grants, Gifts, & Contributions

heroes-at-homeRTMC has been awarded a $40,000 Nonprofit Assistance grant from the Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development to support the launch of our Gordon Hawk Handyman Program. Not only will it help to get the program started, the endorsement of our effort by the DHCD will give us heightened credibility in our efforts to secure additional funding.


We’ve also been award two grants, one from Sears and the other from Lowe’s. Combined, these grants represent $25,000 in funding to support work on three homes. There is a $10,000 grant from Sears, by way of their Heroes at Home Program, which “provides support to military service members, veterans and their families through joint efforts with various nonprofit organizations”, and will assist Mr. and Mrs. Feld, who are a retired Air Force family. The $15,000 grant from Lowe’s will support work in the home of Mr. and Mrs. Walker and the home of Mr. Schmidt, who need renovations to accommodate disabilities.


Lastly, RTMC would like to announce that 399 donors have supported RTMC since January 1, 2016! We’d like to thank these special individuals for their investment in our programs and services and invite them to connect with us on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/RTMoCo/) for real-time updates on our work in the community.

The Grille at Flower Hill to Host Fundraiser for RTMC


ThCapacityCorpsHeadere Grille at Flower Hill, a local restaurant and Gaithersburg favorite, will be sponsoring a fundraiser this Thursday evening, April 7, starting at 6 PM to support the service project being hosted later this month by Rebuilding Together Montgomery County’s AmeriCorps service members. The Grille will generously donate 10% of all dinner sales between 6 PM and 9 PM to RTMC to help pay for the cost of the materials RTMC’s service members will need to repair a local nonprofit facility.

To successfully complete their service term, AmeriCorps service members are required to plan, develop, and execute a community service project that helps address a social problem facing the community. This year, RTMC’s service members Claire Durst and Lianna Harbeson will be leading a group of volunteers from Our Lady of Good Counsel High School in repairing a facility operated by Lead4Life, a local nonprofit dedicated to reducing the number of youth entering the juvenile justice system, the number of out-of-home placements, and the youth recidivism rate. This project will not only create a more vibrant and welcoming space for Lead4Life’s clients, it will allow Lead4Life to focus its resources on what it does best, serving at-risk youth throughout Montgomery County.

“The work done by RTMC and its AmeriCorps service members is critical to improving the lives of some of our most vulnerable neighbors here in Montgomery County,” said Aaron Gonzales, Director of Development at Rebuilding Together Montgomery County. “This work is only possible through the help and support of civic-minded businesses like The Grille. Bill Moore and his team at The Grille never cease to amaze us with their dedication to giving back to the communities in which they live and work, and we can’t thank them enough for the support they are providing to our AmeriCorps service members.”

If you would like to help support this wonderful project, please join us at The Grille, located at 18257 Flower Hill Way, Gaithersburg, MD 20879, this Thursday anytime between 6 PM and 9 PM. You will be providing much needed support to a wonderful cause and enjoying some of the best food in town in the process.



Trunnell Electric Chooses RTMC to Receive Cardinal Bank Community Grant

Rebuilding Together Montgomery County extends its congratulations to longtime partner Trunnell Electric for being honored by the Washington Business Journal with a 2016 Family Owned Business Award. On behalf of Trunnell Electric, WBJ event sponsors Cardinal Bank will be making a $500 grant to the Trunnell’s charity of choice: Rebuilding Together Montgomery County.

“We are ecstatic about Trunnell’s award and grateful for both Trunnell and Cardinal Bank for their investment in Rebuilding Together Montgomery County,” says executive director Christina Betancourt Johnson.  “Trunnell’s long-standing engagement with RTMC is only one facet of their multi-dimensional commitment to our community and we’re proud to call them partners.”

Trunnell Electric is a family owned business that has been around for eighty years, opened in 1936, under the direction of brothers, W. K. Trunnell and Leroy B. “Dutch” Trunnell. They made a name for themselves providing services to Montgomery County and Washington DC. The company is now owned and run by the 2nd and 3rd generations of the Trunnell family. In 1946 they opened a showroom on Wisconsin Avenue in Bethesda, becoming a part of the community. Over the years the company grew as Montgomery County expanded and through the mid-1960’s became responsible for the electrical wiring of over 65% the new homes built in Chevy Chase, Bethesda and the Upper Northwest in the District. During that time Trunnell Electric also added commercial clients to their extensive list of customers served, eventually this lead to a move to Rockville. Trunnell Electric has been a mainstay in the community ever since and the family looks forward to providing excellent service for many years to come.

Rebuilding Together Montgomery County Celebrates 25 Years of Community Engagement & Revitalization

Gaithersburg, MD (March 3, 2016) On March 24, 2016, Rebuilding Together Montgomery County (RTMC) will celebrate 25 years of Restoring the Feeling of Home for families and individual homeowners in need in the county.

For the 25 years Rebuilding Together has served Montgomery County, it has operated as a community revitalization partner. It has provided hope and help to our most vulnerable neighbors, who, although they have achieved the goal of home ownership, can no longer afford to keep their homes safe, secure, and accessible.  Among the more than 2000 families and individuals served in 25 years are senior who wish to age in place, veterans with financial and physical challenges, the disabled, and families with children.

Robert King, president of the board of RTMC, points with pride to “The thousands of volunteers from corporations, faith-based organizations, small businesses, and the trades who have shared their time and resources to preserve existing housing stock and contribute to affordable housing in the county. This is a clear example of neighbors helping neighbors. Working together, we’ll bend the curve on affordable housing issues affecting our residents across Montgomery County.”

The RTMC 25th Anniversary Breakfast will be held on Thursday, March 24, 2016, at the Universities of Shady Grove in Rockville, Maryland  from 8:00am – 10:00am. Speakers include County Executive Ike Leggett, former  Representative Connie Morella, County Council President Nancy Floreen, and Kenneth Holt, Secretary of the Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development. Kimberly Sorenson, a recent homeowner with whom RTMC worked, will share her story.  And, the awards ceremony will honor two visionary leaders, co-founders Jay Treadwell and the late Gordon Hawk.   RTMC also will honor partners including Choice Hotels, Adventist Healthcare, TW Perry, Novavax, and a variety of faith-based institutions and extraordinary individuals who are changing the homes and hopes of county residents, one home at a time .


Press is welcome to attend. For more information, contact Debbie Auerbach-Deutsch at 301-996-2060 or at djaddc@gmail.com.


For more information on the projects and services of Rebuilding Together Montgomery County, Maryland, visit us at www.rebuildingtogethermc>org or at www.facebook.com/rtMoCo.



Connie and County Council President Nancy Floreen are both presenting awards.  Total Wine and More founder David Trone will introduce his employee, Kimberly Sorenson.  I think both of these things are worth mentioning.


It’s Montgomery County Budget Time!

county budgetingWe’ve heard that  County Council has received the FY17 Recommended Capital Budget and the FY17-22 Capital Improvements Program (CIP) recommendations from the County Executive, which you can find at https://reports.data.montgomerycountymd.gov/cip.

The Council is scheduled to hold CIP hearings on Feb. 9 and Feb. 11, and Council Committees will begin their work on the CIP in February. Check the Council’s agenda for updates and staff reports on CIP issues.

Now we know that not everyone (and maybe hardly anyone) is a real budget wonk, but Rebuilding Together receives considerable support from the County, and we’ll be asking them for additional support for our newly reconceived Handyman Program.  For that reason, it might be a good time to call your favorite Council member and let them know just how important our program is for both residents in the county and our communities at large.

Here are some things you might mention:

1) Tell a personal story about how Rebuilding Together has helped you or someone you know. Feel free to check out our website for quick facts and our most recent annual report.

2) Tell them about a project that you’ve worked on.

3) Tell them about how your employer or community group has contributed to RTMC’s work.

4) Remind them that RTMC’s work ensures that vulnerable county residents – low income seniors, people with disabilities, special needs, and veterans –

receive critical help so that they can remain living in safe and healthy homes.

5) That when these individuals and families can remain in their own homes, it guarantees their housing costs are affordable, ensures that their housing is safer for them to live in, and keeps them independent.

6) Our work stabilizes communities and helps them to thrive.


Please contact your councilmembers today!


Contact Information:

Roger Berliner, District 1 240-777-7828



Marc Elrich, At Large 240-777-7966



Nancy Floreen, Councilmember at Large 240-777-7959



Tom Hucker District 5 240-777-7960



Sidney Katz District 3 240-777-7906



George Leventhal, Councilmember At Large 240-777-7811



Nancy Navarro, District 4 240-777-7968



Craig Rice, District 2 240-777-7955



Hans Riemer, Councilmember At Large 240-777-7964


Is the Old Homestead Ready for Winter?

home repair 2December was the new September–it seemed like it, at least.  Now that January is starting to get a little serious, it’s probably a good idea to make sure the house is ready for the wind and snow.

Plumbing:  Did you drain water from the outdoor faucets and from any pipes that might be exposed to the cold?  If you’ve ever had pipe burst, you know about this…

Gutters: Take one last look and make sure you’ve gotten all the leaves out. Remember these two words: Ice dams.

Heating system:  Did you clean and replace the filters, vacuum the vents, and make sure the ducts were properly sealed? It takes more than just switching from AC to Heat. It’s best to have a service contract–they’ll inspect and change everything over, and if there’s a problem, they can fix it.

Doors and Windows: Don’t forget to remove the screens and install the storm windows and doors! If the weather stripping is loose or worn, replace it (install it if you haven’t got it already).  Make sure the gaps around windows, doors, pipes and vents are caulked, and check to make sure the seals are still sound. And check for broken and cracked glass.

Essential Items:  Get the de-icer. Make sure you’ve got a good snow shovel…and a scraper and brush for the car windows (and it wouldn’t hurt to have one of those little shovels tucked away in the trunk).

If and when the next snow days come, don’t go crazy shoveling. People rarely freeze, but health safety is a concern. Pace yourself and be safe on the ice!

Wells Fargo’s Healthy Housing Challenge Helps RTMC Homeowner

[vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_column_text]wells-fargo-volunteersFew people realize that homes can be one of the most dangerous places for U.S. families. But with the right information and repairs, homes can be safe and healthy for homeowners and their families to enjoy. And that’s just what Sharon Boyd found out when she reached out to Rebuilding Together Montgomery County this winter!

A mutual friend suggested to Sharon that she call us.  She’s owned a home in Montgomery County for quite a few years. Like a lot of us, the natural wear and tear was starting to catch up with her.  She didn’t have the kind of money that home repairs cost these days.

The thing is, she’d had to take early retirement from her job as an American Sign Language interpreter because she gradually lost her eyesight.

Did we mention that her son, lives with her? He’s disabled as well–he has some cognitive impairments, and has had to give up driving. They’re pretty resourceful, though, and between the two of them, they manage to cover all the bases. He takes care of the cooking because she’s no longer comfortable around a hot stove. She helps manage the household chores. And together, they’re able to do to their shopping by using the bus or occasionally MetroAccess.

Despite their combined efforts to manage the household, it was getting to be a bit difficult to get around in the house.

When Sharon reached out to us, Tom Kollecas took the call. If you know Tom, you know that he’s been our project manager for five years, with fifteen years general contracting experience before that. If anyone knows how to scope a project and find immediate solutions for our homeowners, it’s Tom!

Tom stopped by the house and Sharon took him on the tour, pointing out the areas of need throughout.

First stop was the kitchen. Here’s the initial list he made:

  • Repair and reinstall base cabinet drawer front
  • Repair/secure side splash on countertop
  • Install new range hood
  • Repair kitchen chair
  • Repair dining room chair
  • Modify dryer exhaust duct and reposition stack unit closer to back wall
  • Secure wall cabinets to ceiling
  • Reinstall laundry closet door

Next, Sharon led him through the front entry way and into the powder room. The storm door needed to be removed, the door frame needed repair, there had to be weather stripping installed, and the toilet had to be replaced. Lastly, the foyer ceiling needed paint.

When he headed upstairs, Sharon showed him where she wanted handrails and a safety gate. The railing at the landing needed to be secured. The stair treads were squeaky and so was the subfloor in the master bedroom. The balcony needed a new sliding door, the deck needed a lot of work, including new plywood, railings, and, of course, more paint.

Tom quickly realized that there was quite a lot of work to be done.

After completing his scope of work, Tom worked to identify an appropriate volunteer team for the project. Before long, it was easy to see that based on skill, volunteer team size and overall project scope, Sharon’s house was a perfect match for the volunteer team from Wells Fargo Bank who has engaged with RTMC as a part of the nationwide Healthy Housing Challenge.

The Healthy Housing Challenge takes its inspiration from a recent federal government report – Healthy Homes Strategy for Action – that estimated more than 30 million homes have potential health threats that contribute to asthma and other respiratory diseases, carbon-monoxide poisoning, lung cancer, falls and burns. The Wells Fargo Healthy Housing Challenge seeks to awaken homeowners, health care providers, and policymakers to the many low-cost ways to make homes healthier.

“This funding and volunteers from Wells Fargo will help us reach 1,500 families with life-saving upgrades to their homes,” said Rebecca Morley, National Center for Healthy Housing’s executive director. “Millions of families across the country have both obvious and hidden hazards in their homes and homeowners often are unaware these problems can be solved through relatively simple fixes. This initiative will help us make repairs and raise awareness about the important connection between our homes and our health.”

With approximately 15 volunteers, 4 skilled supervisors, and a significant investment from Wells Fargo, the once dilapidated townhome was repaired and restored to a healthier and safer living environment for Sharon and her son.

“Thanks to the generous and hardworking team from Wells Fargo, we’re reminded that people do care about us and that a company’s size doesn’t prohibit them from getting involved with individuals and communities in need,” says Ms. Boyd. Ms. Boyd went on to say “that’s what this is about…giving and sharing and being part of a community! Thank you Wells Fargo for your generosity and support.”[/vc_column_text][vc_separator type=”normal” position=”center” icon_pack=”font_awesome”][vc_video link=”http://youtu.be/ftzmvYTb0zw”][/vc_column][/vc_row]

The Donaldson Group Gives a Silver Spring Group Home a Makeover

[vc_row row_type=”row” type=”grid” icon_pack=”font_awesome” text_align=”left” background_color=”#ffffff”][vc_column][vc_column_text]The people at the Donaldson Group (TDG) in Rockville spend their workweek managing properties. (They currently manage over 25,000 housing units) They also identify distressed properties for major rehabilitation and re-positioning, advise clients on real estate acquisitions, and execute construction and renovation work. . They’re pretty good at it, community leaders, in fact.

Now when you’re in the business of managing and rehabilitating housing units, most of us would save our days off for movies, shopping, or a trip to the ballpark. Maybe we’d have friends over and, weather permitting, grill steaks, or tofu. Or maybe we’d just kick back with a Cappuccino or a Mojito. Not the folks at TDG, though. They’re really committed to keeping our community livable and attractive, and they don’t mind getting their hands dirty and doing a bit of heavy lifting.

On October 22nd and 27th, they left the comforts of home behind, abandoned shopping plans, tossed   the Entertainment Guide under the coffee table, and got their hands dirty rebuilding a home in Silver Spring.

And it wasn’t just any home. This particular home was owned by the Jewish Foundation for Group Homes. And if you don’t know them, they are a nonprofit that’s “dedicated to enhancing the independence, dignity, choice, and community inclusion of individuals with disabilities, regardless of faith or creed.” That’s a fancy way of saying that they spend their time providing affordable, independent living space for people who need a little help keeping up with the rest of us. And JFGH supports more than 200 individuals in over 70 sites throughout the Washington D.C. Metropolitan area, so they are community leaders, too.

You may know, or have figured out, that homes that provide support to individuals with disabilities need to be staffed around the clock to provide residents with help taking care of personal needs, household chores, food shopping and preparation, transportation, recreational activities, and health and medical monitoring. This particular home has been around for a while, and had gotten a bit rough around the edges. The Donaldson Group wanted to make it healthier and safer for the four current residents.

Bright and (kind of) early Thursday morning, TDG volunteers literally tore into their work, meaning that they began by ripping out wallpaper in the common areas and hallways to prepare for fresh coats of paint. Then they replaced vent covers and cleaned the walls in the kitchen. (And you never realize just how dirty those kitchen walls are until you start cleaning them!)

After that, the volunteers got out the step-ladders and replaced several ceiling lights and light fixtures in the living room. Next, the front railings were sanded, refinished and painted, and the front and back entryways got a thorough cleaning. And it wasn’t just to make it look nicer—clean entry ways, equipped with the proper railings, are critical to accessibility, and they make it safer for the residents.

When they came back on Tuesday, the majority of the day was dedicated to pulling up old and damaged carpeting and building a new stronger set of stairs for the side entrance to the house. You may know that carpets tends to be fastened into place with staples. This carpeting was no exception, and it ran throughout the entire house. It took most of the day to pry it up.

Sometimes, if you can get a hold on an edge of carpet, you can give a good pull and a big piece comes up, staples and all. Other times, it comes up in bits and pieces, and you have to pull the staples out one at a time. And there is padding underneath, and it is full of years’ worth of dirt and shampoo. If you thought the kitchen was dirty… After the dirty work was done, and the new paint was dry, the fun began, installing new window treatments, new lighting fixtures for the kitchen, new stairs, and preparation for new floor coverings.

After two days of very hard work, the volunteers remarked on how different the house looked at the end of Tuesday from the way it had looked at the beginning of Thursday.

The TDG folks love rebuilding, and throughout both days spirits were high. Many volunteers remarked on how much they enjoyed themselves. One volunteer commented on how easy it was to give back to the community in such a tangible way. The residents of the home won’t forget the good Donaldson people for a long time. Their work made the house more livable, more accessible, and a nicer place to be. And it looks great!R

Rebuilding Together thanks the Donaldson Group for their hard work. They believe, as we do, that good housing makes a good community.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_gallery interval=”3″ images=”22159,22160,22161,22162,22163,22164″ onclick=”link_image” custom_links_target=”_self” column_number=”2″ type=”qode_gallery” grayscale=”no” title=”The Donaldson Group Fall 2015 Project”][/vc_column][/vc_row]