The Miami Herald - Team of volunteers spruces up Naranja homes

More than 200 volunteers helped refurbish 14 homes of people in need in Naranja last weekend.

By Margarita Sweeting - April 28, 2010

As a missionary and foster mom, Pearlie Butler knew what it meant to serve her community. But on Saturday, she found out what it meant to be served.

Butler, 61, was one of 14 homeowners in Naranja who had their homes refurbished by Rebuilding Together of Miami-Dade as the group joined more than 200 affiliates nationwide to celebrate the 22nd annual National Rebuilding Day.

"I'm so grateful to know people like this. These are people who don't have to do what they do, but they do it anyway. I'm not used to people doing for me like this," said Butler. "I'm just so happy."

Butler was a missionary in places like Africa, India, the Philippines, and China since 1976. In 1990, she moved back to Naranja to help her parents, who were both very ill. She worked as a real estate agent until 2005, when she decided to become a foster mom. One day, two of her daughters got into a fight and she was hit in the head while trying to break them up. Butler thought nothing of it, until she started feeling ill. Eventually, she went to a doctor and an MRI determined there was a brain tumor.

"I remember I laughed and told my brother sometimes it's good to get a good lick in the head. I never would have known about the tumor had it not been for getting hit," said Butler.

She continued caring for children, but in December 2009, doctors found cancerous tumors throughout her abdomen. She had emergency surgery and ended up on disability. There was no way Butler could afford the repairs and refurbishing necessary in her home.

"This is exactly the kind of person we look for to help," said Donna Fales, executive director of Rebuilding Together Miami-Dade. "It's an important part of our mission, to help people who don't have other options. We give them an opportunity to stay in their homes, to continue living there."

Along with Butler's home, Rebuilding Together volunteers painted, planted, fixed roofs and windows, and repaired just about anything necessary.

Macella Sherrod, 73, needed a vanity in one bathroom, while the other bathroom needed a new toilet and all the plumbing redone.

That bathroom wasn't working at all, and it had been like that for about a year," said Sherrod. "They also put in new kitchen cabinets, painted, they did a lot, and, they were so nice and friendly. They did a great job."

Nearly $200,000 went into the work done by 275 volunteers in Naranja. Nationwide, there were 67,000 volunteers working on 3,500 projects.

Some sponsors (contractors who contributed work to the homes) included Coastal Construction, Moss & Associates, First Florida Building Corporation, Current Builders, Everglades Steele, Dozier & Dozier Construction, American Realty Capital, House Doctors, KVC Constructors, Jaffer & Associates, Contractor's Resource Center, Parsons, GSD Contracting, TGSV Enterprises, Outlook International Inc., Voss Painting and Freedom Cuts.