A Boost to Rebuild.
For Immediate Release
October 27, 2013
MIAMI, October 27, 2013 ‐ Miami's fierce summer sun is punishing the newly planted flowers and palm trees beside the entrance to Charles Stubbs's home. Stubbs, 65, is a military veteran who served for two years during the Vietnam War. A resident of Coconut Grove since 1960, he has seen major changes take place in his neighborhood and remembers the time when all the houses there were built in the shotgun style – narrow, rectangular homes with an average width of 3.5 meters, at most, and the bedrooms arranged one behind the other. This was the most popular style of building in the southern United States between the end of the Civil War (1861-1865) and the mid-1920s.
|Charles Stubbs with Stephanie Carvajal, the Coordinator of the AmeriCorps Programs, the organization that supports the Rebuilding Together initiative (left) and Jacqueline Contney: "What touched me most were the unexpected gestures."|
But Charles Stubbs's community is not all that has changed. Over the years, he has seen his own house get more and more run down because he could not afford the maintenance costs. It needed a great deal of work. Today, thanks to the volunteers from the Rebuilding Together organization, his home has received a fresh coat of paint, electrical repairs, a new ventilation system and new hurricane-resistant doors and windows.
"What touched me most were the unexpected gestures, like getting a new bed," says Stubbs. "I used to have a lot of back pain, but now I can get a good night's sleep and rest."
Originally called "Christmas in April," Rebuilding Together is a nonprofit organization founded 30 years ago in Midland, Texas. Started by a group of volunteers who organized joint efforts in April of each year to rehabilitate homes in the Midland area, its main objective is to fix up the homes of veterans, seniors, disaster victims, people with disabilities, and disadvantaged families whose homes need urgent repairs. Rebuilding Together has over 200 affiliates across the United States and a historic total of 3.4 million volunteers who have rehabilitated over 100,000 homes, representing an estimated market value of USD 1.3 billion.
"There is a dwindling supply of affordable housing in the United States, especially in Miami," says volunteer Bob Miller, the chairman of Rebuilding Together in Miami-Dade for the past 10 years. "We need to preserve this inventory for future generations."
Three generations living in the same home
"Often times we come across houses where people from three generations are living together. The grandparents are usually the owners, but the daughter also lives there with her small children, and the seniors take care of the kids while she goes to work," says engineer Jacqueline Contney, an Odebrecht member who is Responsible for Cost Control on the Port of Miami project. "The houses are old and small, and they're not designed to accommodate so many people."
Jacqueline found out about Rebuilding Together two years ago through an Odebrecht initiative carried out during the Miami Metrorail project. Today, in addition to taking part in collective efforts and charitable events with her husband, Ross Contney, and daughter Jordyn Contney, 6, Jacqueline is the treasurer of the Miami affiliate.
"It is very gratifying to know that the work we are doing has a direct impact on our community," says Jacqueline. "Just in the area where Mr. Stubbs lives, we have rehabilitated almost 100 homes. As a result, we've revitalized the entire neighborhood, and not just one house." Bob Miller adds: "Aside from renovating homes, we are also involved in other projects that make sense and benefit the community. For example, we've demolished a crack house, painted a church and built playgrounds."
Rebuilding Together Miami-Dade
Donna Fales, Executive Director