Monday, August 26, 2013

Turner Construction Volunteers Rebuild Home for Couple in Rainier Beach

This last Saturday, 25 volunteers from Turner Construction in Seattle went to work rebuilding a family's home in Rainier Beach. The happy homeowners, Linda and Ishmail, received new insulation, new air ducting, new interior doors, new flooring and baseboards, and new siding and soffits where the old had rotted away. Volunteers also helped with pruning and yard work, and were able to paint the entire exterior of the home! After years of dealing with a cold, drafty house that was marred by rodent damage, Linda and Ishmail were so grateful to have a warm and safe home again.

Linda and Ishmail's home had severe rodent damage
Linda, standing in her home as volunteers repair
her flooring and install new baseboards!
 Linda and Ishmail see these repairs as a fresh start after what has been a rough few years. Since 2009, Linda has struggled with a series of critical health problems including a life-threatening blood disease, cancer and diabetes. Costly treatments meant the couple had little left in the budget for any home renovations or repairs. Linda was overwhelmed to be receiving help, especially after years of giving back to the community herself. She has spent much of her time as a volunteer for Seattle youth, encouraging kids to pursue their dreams in the arts (and beyond), and even offering up her home as a safe place to stay for her son's friends. Linda is also an accomplished poet and musician, who has found new inspiration to create after a period of silence.
Linda and Ishmail's home before the repairs

Linda, with project leaders Justin (left) and Abdi (right),
 standing proudly in front of her "new" home
We want to thank Turner Construction, Project Leaders Justin and Abdi, and the 25 volunteers that made Linda and Ishmail's house a place they are happy to call home again!
RTS Staff members Tim (left) and Mike (right), with Linda and Project Leader Abdi

Friday, August 23, 2013

RTS welcomes new AmeriCorps Member, Tim Erkel

 Tim (L) with his fellow AmeriCorps Member at RT Twin Cities

Last week, Rebuilding Together Seattle welcomed our second AmeriCorps Member, Tim Erkel!  Tim will serve a second year as a Rebuilding Together CapacityCorps Member in Seattle after already serving for a year at Rebuilding Together Twin Cities!  RTS is very excited to have Tim's excellent, hands-on program experience and enthusiasm for the Rebuilding Together mission.

Let's hear from Tim!

How did you first learn about Rebuilding Together?  How did you learn about the Rebuilding Together AmeriCorps (CapacityCorps) opportunity?  Why did you decide to serve?

I first heard about Rebuilding Together through a former teammate of mine who was serving as a CapacityCorps member with Rebuilding Together Twin Cities.  He had to leave CapacityCorps midway through his term in February 2011, and because I was job hunting at the time and they did not have the ability to hire someone to replace him, I offered to volunteer in his stead until I could find work or they could find a replacement.  At first it was only meant to be temporary, but once that first homeowner hugged me I was hooked.  I gladly accepted their CapacityCorps position from August 2012-July 2013 and haven’t looked back since.

Describe your first year of service at Rebuilding Together Twin Cities – what were your primary responsibilities?  What was one of your favorite memories during your time there (ex: a particular project with a homeowner)?

At Rebuilding Together Twin Cities I was one of three CapacityCorps members, all of who were Project Coordinators.  I would preview potential houses, develop work scopes for selected homeowners, procure materials, and lead volunteers on project days.  Something that I cherished about Twin Cities is the bond that I had with my fellow CapacityCorps members, Brent and Kelly (pictured above sitting in the truck with me).  We got so close over the course of the year and have countless stories shared between us of the wonderful homeowners we were privileged to serve.


What influenced your decision to serve a second year?  What interested in you in RT Seattle?

I think I wanted to do a second term the minute orientation ended my first year.  As my term in Twin Cities went on, I realized that I wanted to do a second term elsewhere to  expand my Rebuilding Together skill set and experience a different operational style to challenge myself to grow in a way that I wouldn't have, if I stayed in the Twin Cities where I was comfortable.  I was interested in Seattle because I met Executive Director, Margie Thirlby, and former Program Associate, Claire Oatey, at National Conference and immediately was drawn to the passion and direction that they made clear during their breakout session.  I’m tremendously excited to serve in such a vibrant, historic city with a rising affiliate!

What are you looking forward to the most during your year of service in Seattle?

I grew up and lived the vast majority of my life in the same 30 mile radius of the Twin Cities, so I am definitely looking forward to learning more about Seattle the city, what it has to offer me, and what I have to offer it.  I’m very much looking forward to serving with the RTS Staff who have been nothing but welcoming and kind in my transition here.  And most importantly, I’m looking forward to serving our homeowners.
Tell us a bit about yourself – what do you enjoy doing outside of work?

I’m a HUGE Minnesota Twins fan as well as a Denver Broncos fan.  I love going to live shows and discovering new bands to listen to; I’ve already got two shows I’d like to attend in the next month.  I can’t wait to discover all the little hole in the wall places Seattle has, as well as take advantage of the prodigious outdoor culture that exists here.

Thank you, Tim, for your service and incredible dedication to the Rebuilding Together affiliate network.  We are so excited to have you in Seattle (especially so you can become a Seahawks fan :).

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

JS Painting Company Paints a New Picture for Veteran’s Family

Reed Jennings with homeowner Cora
RTS is proud to recognize Jennings Sidoine Painting Company for their contribution to our Safe at Home Program.  For those not familiar with Rebuilding Together Seattle’s Safe at Home program, launched just two years ago, Safe at Home has allowed RTS to nearly double the breadth of our impact by helping homeowners who’s repair needs are either limited in scope or too technical to warrant a Rebuilding Day with a large group of volunteers and led by one of our sponsoring organizations or companies.  Safe at Home utilizes skilled or specialized volunteers to address top priority repair needs that meet our mission of helping low-income homeowners live in warmth, safety, and independence.  Owners Sammy Sidoine and Reed Jennings put forth tremendous effort and generosity in donating their professional services and leveraging their business relationships to help ensure homeowner Cora and her son Jerald have a home protected from the elements for years to come.

Through Rebuilding Together Seattle’s Veterans Initiative, Cora, the widow of a veteran, was able to qualify for assistance in repairing the siding of her home damaged by rot and woodpeckers, replacing a dilapidated set of stairs and deck providing entry to the house, and fully sealing the home with fresh exterior painting.  Sections of the exterior were completely bare of paint, allowing the forces—and creatures—of nature to take root.  If you met Cora, you would find that she ordinarily would invite anyone into her home.  However, the family of woodpeckers that had taken residence in her walls had long overstayed their welcome by the time she contacted us.  Damage from animals and insects was bad enough, but with water finding its way into her home and limited means to address the problems, 73 year old Cora and son Jerald—who has some medical conditions limiting his physical abilities—were at a loss of how they could fix their home on their own.

When JS Painting Company heard of Cora and Jerald’s plight, compounded by the fact that because of their home’s repair needs the family was at risk of losing their homeowner’s insurance, the company immediately set to work in remedying the situation.

Both RTS and JS Painting Company knew it would take a community effort to undertake the project.  Willing to personally donate their time to paint the house, Sammy and Reed took their commitment a step further by approaching the vendors they regularly do business with, asking them to pitch in with product donations that would make the project financially feasible.  Their tireless efforts took months of soliciting, coordinating, and waiting for word that they would have the material support they needed to move forward.

In the meantime, RTS activated other volunteers from our Safe at Home team to tackle rebuilding the deck and stairs, as well as removing and replacing all the damaged siding.  A multi-staged repair process on Cora’s home ensued after further inspection revealed that a second floor deck was also at risk of collapse.  Through the combined efforts of two separate volunteer groups the house was repaired and ready for painting just in time for summer’s drier weather.

Now nearly 6 months after the first repair on Cora’s home was completed, JS Painting was still at it, waiting on the final round of paperwork and confirmation to come through on a paint donation.  A lot of credit is due to Sammy Sidoine, who worked with Mallory Paint Store and Benjamin Moore Paints to put every piece in line.  By early July the project was ready to go and in a few long days for work, Sammy and Reed had scraped, washed, primed, and painted the entire home, including trim and the front stairs and landings.  Their work serves as a model for how companies of all size can join with other businesses and individuals in their community to make a real difference in the lives of our neighbors.

Thank you Sammy, Reed, and JS Painting Company!

If you or your company are interested in becoming a Safe at Home volunteer or partner, please contact Caleb Marshall at

REGISTRATION OPEN for the 4th Annual Beer and Wine Tasting (10-4-13)!

That's right!  Registration for the 4th Annual Beer and Wine Tasting Fundraiser is now OPEN!  On Friday, October 4th, Rebuilding Together Seattle supporters will come together to celebrate the mission of RTS at the brand new MOHAI on Lake Union.

Guests will enjoy a great selection of local wines and microbrews to sample throughout the evening, along with a distinctively Northwest hors d'ouevre menu.  In addition to bidding on an exciting array of auction items, attendees will have an opportunity to hear from a Program Recipient of Rebuilding Together Seattle, and make a donation to support our programs.

Please visit our registration page to register today for the Beer and Wine Tasting.  You can also visit the event page to view our event invitation and learn more.  For more information, please contact Paige Schultz at or call 206.682.1231.

In order to make the 2013 event a big success, RTS needs the support of event donors, sponsors, and volunteers!  To learn about how you or your business can make a donation to our auction, serve wine at the event, become a sponsor, or volunteer the night of the event, give us a call! 206.682.1231.

In order to make the 2013 event a big success, RTS needs the support of event donors, sponsors, and volunteers!  To learn about how you or your business can make a donation to our auction, serve as a wine sponsor, become an event sponsor, or volunteer the night of the event, give us a call! 206.682.1231. 

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Volunteers of the Month: Aimy Enriquez and Marsha Kabakov (501 Commons)

Aimy Enriquez

Marsha Kabakov
Rebuilding Together Seattle would like to recognize Aimy Enriquez and Marsha Kabakov as our Volunteers of the Month for August! Aimy and Marsha came to RTS as consultants for 501 Commons Deep Dive program, an intensive 3 month course aimed at seeing how technology can help our organization run more efficiently, raise more money, and reach more people. Aimy and Marsha were able to help RTS identify inefficiencies in our current infrastructure and offer solutions to these problems so that we can reach our next growth stage.

Let's hear from Aimy and Marsha:

1. How did you get involved with RTS?

Aimy: RTS had shown interest and applied for the Deep Dive program which my AmeriCorps team at 501 Commons had been organizing. I was able to get the opportunity as part of my service year to participate as a volunteer consultant for the technology planning program. I was matched with RTS and paired with Marsha, another volunteer consultant to help them achieve greater technology stability.

Marsha: I am a volunteer with 501 Commons, the organization in Seattle that engages skilled professionals on behalf of nonprofits in our community. When 501 Commons requested that I become a volunteer with their "Deep Dive" project that helps nonprofits with their IT infrastructure needs, I was happy to help. RTS was one of the organizations participating in "Deep Dive." The purpose of RTS resonated with me right away.
2. What do you enjoy most about working with our organization?

Aimy: I’ve been able to meet the organization’s staff and work directly with them throughout the program’s process. It was a great experience to get to know them and see their passion in furthering their organization thus, better helping their clients.

Marsha: It was great to get to know the team at RTS. They were very collaborative. It truly felt like teamwork.

3. Why do you choose to support RTS?

Aimy: Among the organizations that have applied to the program, RTS was the most unique in the services they provide and the clients they serve. I was interested in learning more about the organization and see how a small nonprofit functions.

Marsha: I enjoy working at the grass roots level. It counterbalances my management experience within corporations, and brings me back to my own roots in nonprofits, where I first started my career.

4. What about RTS’ mission are you most drawn to?
Aimy: Proper shelter is a basic need that everyone should have access to. RTS is able to provide those services to low-income homeowners. I feel the impact brings so much to their clients who wouldn't be able to afford those types of services elsewhere.

Marsha: I especially like working on basic needs "food, clothing, shelter." RTS is a purpose-driven organization with tangible results for clients.

Thank you, Aimy and Marsha, for all your hard work making RTS a more productive organization!

Friday, August 2, 2013

Meet the RTS Summer Interns! (Sam, Jinhee, and Jaclyn)

Rebuilding Together Seattle is grateful to have three fantastic interns who joined our team this Summer: Sam Shugart, Jinhee Hur, and Jaclyn Rudd. In addition to processing applications, interviewing clients, planning for rebuilding days, conducting outreach, and helping coordinate the annual fundraiser, they are always positive and fun to be around.  We are excited to have Sam, Jinhee, and Jaclyn (along with Stephanie, who joined us in May) support RTS as we begin our new fiscal year.

Let's get to know these fantastic individuals!


How did you first hear about Rebuilding Together Seattle?

I first heard about Rebuilding Together Seattle through a list of local developmental aid organizations on  After talking with a friend in the non-profit sector and doing online research myself I became very interested in the organization and applied for an internship.  

Why do you support the mission of Rebuilding Together Seattle?

I believe that everyone should try to leave the world and the society they live in a little bit better off than they found it.  RTS is doing an amazing job helping connect volunteers and donors who are willing to give their time to help out in their local communities. A home is one the most critical things a person can have.  Having comfort and security is one of the building blocks of our lives and RTS helps people accomplish this.  


What are you looking forward to the most, in regard to your internship with our organization?

RTS is an amazing organization that I am really looking forward to being part of.  I love being part of a team and having the opportunity to do something good for others.  I want to learn the skills that help me make a difference in the future no matter where I go while improving the world around me. 

Tell us a bit about yourself.  What do you like to do outside of work?

Currently I am studying International Relations at Lewis and Clark College in Portland and am back home on Vashon, Washington for the summer.  I love to study global affairs and constantly read news sites, blogs and books about politics.  I am very interested in community development and international relations and hope to find a job where I can combine my interests.  I also work with the Council on American Islamic Relations and I am always interested in learning how people are making a difference in society.



How did you first hear about Rebuilding Together Seattle?

I first heard about Rebuilding Together Seattle from Seung Lee, a family friend of mine who also had an internship at RTS. While I was still in South Korea, she occasionally talked about her roles at RTS. Soon, I came back to the US, and I recalled what Seung had told me, so I visited the website and became more interested in this organization after learning more about what it does for the community.

Why do you believe in the mission of Rebuilding Together Seattle?

Since the 2008 economic downturn, I have seen many of my family’s friends’ houses being foreclosed on and have seen many of these people evicted from their homes. I cannot say that I fully understand how they feel, but I do understand that they are going through very hard times. I believe the mission of Rebuilding Together Seattle can serve as a great support for low-income homeowners who have been hit by the recession. I believe that making their homes a little bit more independent, warmer, and safer during this economic situation will definitely benefit them. Moreover, the mission of RTS is also great in that it provides opportunities for community members to give something back to their community by supporting those in need.

What are you looking forward to the most in your internship at RTS?

This is my first internship, and I have already learned so many valuable lessons. The spirit the board and staff members, volunteers and donors bring into this organization has impacted me tremendously. The enthusiasm and pride I see in these people for what they do to support the community really impresses me, and I have begun to think seriously about pursuing a career with NGOs. I am very thankful for the opportunity I have been given and excited to learn more about how NGOs actually operate.

Tell us a bit about yourself—what do you like to do outside of work/RTS?

Recently, I came back from South Korea after studying there for a year as an exchange student. It feels really great to be back because I had been yearning for my family, friends, and, last but not least, the rainy but beautiful Seattle weather. When school is in session, I am pretty a big nerd.  I spend most of my time studying for lectures but also attend music concerts and visit zoos on the weekends. When school is out, I usually go camping and travel around the Northwest. I feel so blessed to be living in a place surrounded by wonderful natural scenery!



How did you first hear about Rebuilding Together Seattle?

I have always been interested in the nonprofit sector, and after talking with my brother, who is a friend of Margie Thirlby (RTS Executive Director), I heard about RTS and the great things that Margie and the staff were doing to improve the homes and lives of many people in need throughout the Seattle area.

Why do you believe in the mission of Rebuilding Together Seattle?

The mission of RTS is focused on helping people have a safe and healthy home, which I think every person has a right to. Having just met the staff, I can already tell that they are extremely motivated and passionate about the mission of RTS.  It is easy to be motivated by the goals and mission of RTS because you know that you are going to have a strong and lasting impact on someone.

What are you looking forward to the most with your internship at RTS?
I am looking forward to a lot during this internship! It will be rewarding to see different parts of RTS, including the various programs, volunteer activities, outreach, and development. One of my main focuses will be helping to plan and organize for the annual fundraiser in October, and it will be exciting to learn about all the work that goes on in putting together an event like this. Working with the homeowners and seeing the effect that RTS has on their living conditions will be probably one of the most fulfilling parts of this internship.

Tell us a bit about yourself - what do you like to do outside of work/RTS?
Outside of work, I am a really active person. I enjoy playing on various soccer teams, running through different parts of Seattle, and hiking nearby. I like going to Sounders games, going out to eat, and watching TV, as well as reading or doing puzzles when I have free time.

What a wonderful group of interns! Thank you for your support of our mission.

To learn more about the RTS Internship Program and how you can apply, please email