A Lincoln County nonprofit that fixes up about 20-25 houses a year, primarily with donations and volunteer labor, is in search of more projects and more volunteers.
Rebuilding Together – Lincoln County, an affiliate of the national Rebuilding Together organization in Washington, D.C., works “to keep low-income homeowners safe, warm, and living independently, especially the elderly and disabled,” according to its website.
Boothbay region residents established the 501(c)(3) nonprofit in 2002. Its mission is “repairing homes, revitalizing communities, rebuilding lives,” the website states.
Steve Phillips, one of three heads of operations for the organization, said it is going through “growing pains” and is “in desperate need” of skilled workers.
The organization hires skilled workers for some projects, such as those requiring electrical or plumbing work.
Rebuilding Together encourages more people from all over Lincoln County to volunteer and donate, Phillips said. Currently, most of the volunteers and donations come from the Boothbay peninsula.
For around 10 years, Rebuilding Together worked exclusively on the Boothbay peninsula. However, it has since taken on projects elsewhere in the county, including Jefferson, Newcastle, Waldoboro, and Wiscasset, Phillips said.
Each year the national Rebuilding Together organization has a Rebuilding Together Day, when volunteers with a range of skills help their neighbors with projects to improve their houses. The Lincoln County organization holds the day in April or May.
Each year, Rebuilding Together – Lincoln County receives about 30-40 project requests.
When it receives a request, the board of directors confirms the applicant’s ownership of the home. The applicant must meet certain income guidelines.
A board member then visits the home to review the needs and figure out what the organization will need in terms of labor and materials.
“I don’t want to say that we never turn anyone down, but we don’t very often,” said David Butterworth, a grant writer with the organization. “We might have to defer them occasionally.”
In addition to direct requests from homeowners, the board receives referrals from churches, social services, town offices, and the Boothbay Region Community Resource Council.
On Rebuilding Together Day, about 100-125 volunteers work on 20-25 houses. Butterworth said they try to complete the projects in one day, but sometimes a job stretches across multiple days.
Each project has a “house captain” in charge of the work. Projects range in size from cleaning up a yard or repairing a leak to building a ramp or shingling a roof.
The organization also does emergency repairs throughout the year, Butterworth said. For example, if a person needs a ramp after surgery, the organization will round up volunteers to do the work.
Rebuilding Together – Lincoln County partners with two other housing nonprofits in the area, CHIP Inc. and Habitat for Humanity, Phillips said.
Both organizations have similar goals. Phillips said they share labor, materials, and funds when necessary.
Funds for projects come from a combination of donations, grants, and fundraisers, Butterworth said.
Rebuilding Together sells hamburgers and hot dogs at Windjammer Days, breakfast food at the Early Bird Sale in Boothbay Harbor, and soup at the Souper Bowl Luncheon in Southport.
The organization is starting to ask towns for contributions, according to Butterworth.
In addition to monetary donations, Rebuilding Together accepts donations of appliances for homeowners in need. Building materials companies offer discounts on materials.
“We’ve been really fortunate over the last number of years with organizations that have supported us,” Butterworth said.
The organization recently received a federal rural capacity building grant.
Rebuilding Together – Lincoln County was one of eight affiliates to receive the grant, out of 225 affiliates nationwide, according to Butterworth.
The local organization will receive $30,000 over four years: $10,000 for each of the first two and $5,000 for each of the last two, Butterworth said.
In addition to the grant money, one member of the Lincoln County affiliate’s board will be able to attend the annual Rebuilding Together national conference for the next four years.
The purpose of the grant, Butterworth said, is to increase the organization’s number of clients, volunteers, and donations. The goal is to have a 30-50 percent increase in clients by the end of the four-year period.
“I think everybody who is willing to do this kind of work is caring in the community … we get a lot of satisfaction from what we do because we are helping people out – our neighbors in need,” Butterworth said.
The deadline for project applications is March 1. The deadline for volunteer applications is April 16. Rebuilding Together Day is May 11.
For an application, go to rebuildingtogether-lc.org.