Rebuilding Together nails down second project | AspenTimes.com
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Rebuilding Together nails down second project

Janet Urquhart
Erin Rigney, left, Greg Hunt and Ken Baldwin of the local group Rebuilding Together make improvements to a home in El Jebel on Saturday. (Mark Fox/The Aspen Times)
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The fledgling local chapter of Rebuilding Together hammered away Saturday on its second effort to help a Roaring Fork Valley resident in need.And the year-old organization notched a second project on the resume that volunteers hope will earn the group its designation as an official affiliate of Rebuilding Together, a national program.Local volunteers, working side by side with pros who also donated their time, descended upon a mobile home in El Jebel to tackle a lengthy list of home improvements for a homeowner stricken with multiple sclerosis.Job assignments ranged from replacing the front and back porches with sturdy, safe structures to regraveling the driveway and laying a new concrete walkway to the house (the concrete work comes later this week). Crews also landscaped a torn-up backyard, replaced aging household appliances, insulated the hot-water heater and replaced a light fixture and a faucet in the home.

Much of the work is being done with accessibility in mind, said project leader Jim Korpela, one of the founding members of the local Rebuilding Together chapter.The homeowner, a 40-year-old woman, asked not to be identified.”She’s been a little overwhelmed. I still think she doesn’t believe it,” Korpela said two days before the project team was scheduled to appear en masse at the woman’s doorstep.Members of the team visited the home several times in advance of Saturday’s workday to prepare for the whirlwind rebuilding operation.”I think she’s amazingly grateful … she broke down and cried the second day we came out there and started measuring things. We started saying, ‘we can fix this and we can fix this … .'”

Aside from a core group of the local Rebuilding Together founders and a couple of recruits, Saturday’s work drew on the expertise of various area construction, grading and landscaping concerns that offered to help, along with donated or discounted materials, appliances and food for the work crew.A contingent of the 2005 Roaring Fork Leadership class formed the local Rebuilding Together chapter a year ago. As its first project, the group remodeled a bathroom for a Glenwood Springs family to make the room accessible to the family’s son, who uses a wheelchair. Part 2 of that project, installation of an outdoor lift from the ground to the family’s second-floor condo, was completed last month. (Part of the delay resulted from the elevator manufacturer’s location – in hurricane-ravaged New Orleans.)Rebuilding Together will continue to oversee the maintenance and service of the lift on behalf of the family, according to Korpela.

With two projects under its tool belt, the local group will seek affiliate status from Rebuilding Together this summer. With it will come the organization’s own tax-exempt status (the local group has been operating under Roaring Fork Leadership thus far).Traditionally, Rebuilding Together projects are done on the last weekend in April throughout the country.”Some affiliates of Rebuilding will do a dozen projects in a day,” Korpela noted. “I think one a year will be enough for us for a while.”Janet Urquhart’s e-mail address is janet@aspentimes.com


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