PENINSULA - Rebuilding Together Pacific County will host a visit next week from national Rebuilding Together Vice-chairwoman Mary Herche from Seattle.

The salad luncheon and workshop is scheduled for Monday, July 16, at the Peninsula Senior Center in Klipsan Beach from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Volunteers, board members, donors and anyone interested in finding out more about the organization is invited to attend the luncheon and workshop.

Rebuilding Together is a nationwide, locally operated non-profit organization that coordinates volunteer efforts to repair homes of low income senior and disabled homeowners. RTPC volunteers, whose mission is "Helping homeowners live in warmth and safety" met the challenge head-on April 28 as the first volunteer teams successfully completed repairs, renovations and updates on three area homes.

The newly established local chapter participated in the nationwide kick-off event held on the last Saturday in April 2007. It was a fine day in the neighborhood as volunteers gathered at the Peninsula Saddle Club for coffee, RTPC T-shirts and the mandatory safety meeting and then went off to the three assigned job sites. Three homes were selected for the first round of home repairs based on referrals and a scope of work that could be completed in one day.

House one in Ilwaco now sports new exterior handrail and interior safety bars to help a recovering stroke patient be at home after his hospital stay. House two in Long Beach had siding repaired, a new gutter and a new front door installed for a local widow with limited mobility. Home three in Ocean Park, the largest renovation, included replacing seven windows, repairing the front porch, steps and railing, and installation of new gutters and new paint. Volunteers were split into three teams, one team per home. Teams were led by house captains Chris Boggs, Tom Kennedy and Dennis Howard. Over 800 collective volunteer hours were reported to bring the initial Rebuilding Together Day project to fruition.

Rebuilding Together was established as a national non-profit organization in 1988 and now has 266 affiliates, over 270,000 volunteers and an national average of 9,000 homes rehabilitated each year. Locally, the need for senior homeowners to age in place, avoiding falls and remaining independent, became clear to a number of local residents as well as to the staff of Senior Information and Assistance in Long Beach. After several community members initiated the concept in the spring of 2006, they began working to become an affiliate of national Rebuilding Together.

Since January 2007 officers Barbara Bate, DJ Bogue, John Adams, Truman Rew, and a dozen other team members have held weekly organizational and project planning meetings, including visits from Dick Brower, executive director for Rebuilding Together Grays Harbor. In May, after the success of the first Rebuilding Together Day along the Peninsula, Brower reported to Bate, "you people are the most dedicated and focused group of volunteers I've ever seen."

Full of energy and commitment but still new at building a local organization, RTPC Leaders asked national leader Mary Herche [pronounced hersh] to come from Seattle and offer her expertise to grow RTPC into a sustainable effort. As Monday's workshop speaker at Peninsula Senior Center, Mary Herche is national RT board vice chair, with nearly 19 years volunteering with Rebuilding Together and launching Rebuilding Together Seattle in 1990. She is familiar with both little and large RT groups, traveling widely to help city and county groups grow successfully.

The new RT Home Modifications Program, a partnership with the U.S. Administration on Aging, is a perfect fit for our county because of its large proportion of senior homeowners with limited incomes . RTPC plans to continue collaborating with Senior Information and Assistance to connect needs and services by making essential home repairs for health and safety. Plans are to continue developing our affiliate through the summer, with the next Rebuilding Day set for September 2007. RTPC will be seeking grants for larger projects and developing coalitions with other service organizations in the area.

As one board member put it, "You don't have to be good with a hammer. There's a place for everyone in Rebuilding Together Pacific County!"

For information or to make a referral, email, call or visit Shane Wilson or Doug Sheafer(dsheafer@dsha.wa.gov) Senior Information and Assistance, 1715 A North Pacific Way, 360-642-3634 or 1-888-571-6588. Monday through Friday 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.

To volunteer email Shelly Pollock, (shelly@ourbeach.org).

To make tax-deductible donations to Rebuilding Together Pacific County, send a check to RTPC, PO Box 916, Ilwaco,WA 98624-0916.

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