Dreambuilders: Making homes whole for elderly and disabled

Michael Robinson woke up one April morning wishing his house was better-suited for his elderly, handicapped mother. By that night, he had his wish.

“This is a dream come true,” Robinson said after volunteers spent the day replacing a downstairs shower stall, adding handrails in a stairwell, and repairing a second-story deck – all modifications that make the Federal Way residence safer for his mom, Ruth.

The Robinson residence was one of 26 that were selected by Rebuilding Together South Sound for the non-profit group’s annual Rebuilding Day, which was held this year on April 28. The projects in Pierce County and King County gave homeowners in Federal Way, Tacoma, Auburn, Roy, Graham, Eatonville, University Place and Spanaway free home improvements and upgrades that made their abodes safer and more adaptable for people living with disabilities or age-related limitations.

It’s a year-long process for Rebuilding Together South Sound. Between Rebuilding Days, representatives of the Tacoma-based organization visit the homes of applicants for repairs to start getting ready for the day when volunteers will show up and do the work. “House captains” consult with builders on the work and materials that go into projects ranging from plumbing, electrical and carpentry to fixing roofs, windows and flooring. Fund-raising, donations from individuals and organizations, and sponsorships by businesses and local governments help cover the costs.

Eligibility for homeowners is based on income and whether they’re elderly, disabled or a family with children.

For Michael and Tracie Robinson, the improvements at their home were a virtual godsend.

“It was such a blessing to be picked,” said Michael, a 51-year-old Navy veteran. “I’m overwhelmed by the generosity and the volunteers.”

Rebuilding Together South Sound also offers a year-round program for home modifications and emergency repairs, a home-repair program in conjunction with the City of Tacoma, and education and resources with a goal of beautifying neighborhoods.

More information about the programs, including opportunities to volunteer and donate, is available at rebuildingtogetherss.org, info@rebuildingtogetherss.org, and 253-238-0977.

Power tools and the elbow grease of volunteers helped 26 homes get much-needed improvements during the annual Rebuilding Day.