Lindsey Johnson

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National & Summer Rebuilding Days 2021

We all know how hard COVID has taken a hit on everyone this past year. We have had a lot of discussion on how we were going to continue operating in a way that would still serve the most homeowners possible while being safe and abiding to COVID guidelines. We came up with a way to shift our model this year so that while we are unable to do indoor home repairs, we continued on with exterior repairs to homes as well as doing park revitalization projects and Safe-and-Healthy Home kit distributions. On Saturday April 24th, National Rebuilding Day, we provided 10 homeowners in the Farmington Hills, Southfield, and Huron Valley area with a variety of exterior repairs, built changing stalls at Heritage Park in Farmington Hills along with other clean up tasks for the park and distributed 50 kits to residents of Farmington Hills. Through these efforts, we were able to engage over 250 volunteers that day.

 

With this event proving to work so well, we decided would host our first Summer Rebuilding Day two months later. This event expanded into a two day event that allowed us to engage a new volunteer base with people we had not previously worked with before. On Friday June 4th and Saturday June 5th, we were able to complete exterior repairs for 4 homeowners, revitalize Mattie McKinney Hatchett Park, and distribute 105 Safe-and-Healthy Home kits to Pontiac residents. In these efforts, we engaged 43 volunteers and created new partnerships with Pontiac Community Foundation and Molina Healthcare. Both Borg Warner and Home Depot had teams of volunteers on site at home repair projects as well. We couldn’t be happier with how the event turned out and it is something we hope to continue for next year as well. We are very happy that we have been able to continue service to homeowners even if it is on a different scale than in previous years. We are so thankful for all of the volunteers that are still willing to get their hands dirty to help serve the communities through the pandemic. As we continue to navigate the rest of the year, we hope to do a similar event in the fall, serving more residents than before.

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A Peek Into National Rebuilding Day 2021!

You’re invited!

Who: Bring yourself and your friends to hang with our team at Rebuilding Together Southeast MI!

What: National Rebuilding Day 2021!

When: Saturday April 24th, 2021 8:30am-12pm

Where: Heritage Park in Farmington Hills

Why:

National Rebuilding Day is the largest and most participated event for Rebuilding Together affiliates nationwide. In a normal year, all across the country, affiliates will have volunteer projects going all day to help repair the homes in their cities. We all know that this past year has made everything look a lot different. In light of that, we wanted to give a quick peek into what our affiliate has planned for NRD 2021! One of the major changes we decided to make in order to keep our homeowners, volunteers and staff safe is to keep all home repair projects to exterior work. There is still plenty to be done in the exterior of the home in order to keep you safe inside of it! These projects could be anything like tree trimming, fixing fences, painting, address plaque replacement, fixing low grading, yard work, etc.

The second component to this day will be a park revitalization project in Farmington Hills! We have partnered with Heritage Park to host a half day clean up event for volunteers to participate in. If you caught a glimpse of what our Healthy Housing Harvest Party looked like in the fall, you will have a great idea of what to expect for this as well! There will be many projects going on throughout the park that will include building changing stalls for the splash pad, planting trees, weeding and gardening, picking up trash, etc.

The third component, that will take place at the same park, is a safe and healthy home kit distribution. This is also similar to the one that took place in Detroit last fall. With a combination of donations and purchases, we put together kits that include a fire extinguisher, smoke and CO detectors, first aid kit, Damprid, window insulation kit, hand sanitizer and wipes. This way, even though we can’t get inside of homes this year to help with repairs, we can still provide materials for homeowners to use. There will be a drive through area at the park where homeowners who want to pick up a kit can pull up, we will take down their contact information, put a kit in their car and send them on their way – a completely contactless process to keep everyone distanced and safe!

If any of this has sparked your interest, we are still looking for volunteers to sign up and help out in many different ways! Click the link below to register. Don’t forget, masks will be required to be worn the entire day. We will have extras in case you forget yours! We look forward to meeting you there!

https://rebuildingtogethersem.secure.force.com/GW_Volunteers__PersonalSiteJobListing?Calendar=1&volunteerShiftId=a0V2M00000Esy8ZUAR&jobId=a0T2M00000SHktWUAT&dtMonthFilter=2021-4-24%208:30:0&Language=en-us&nMonthsToShow=1

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National Women’s History Month: Spotlight on Darlene Oleksik

March is National Women’s History Month and on top of that the second week of the month is National Women in Construction Week! We wanted to celebrate some of the amazing women we know by featuring them on our social media, in our newsletter, website, blog posts, etc. Our first feature is a board member of ours, Darlene Oleksik! We asked Darlene a few questions so everyone could get to know her a little. Here is what she said:

1. Tell us a bit more about your relationship with RTSEMI and Eaton working together, how you first heard about RTSEMI, etc.

“I have been involved with RTSEMI since 2008 and led the annual “Days of Caring” with the Eaton employees of the Southfield campus as community volunteer activities. It is part of Eaton’s mission to give back to the communities in which we live and work. RTSEMI had reached out to our HR lead and she asked me for assistance as the marketing communications lead on site. We all met and thought it would be a great fit for us both! Over the years, we have grown our events from individual homeowners to large community activities like community center and public park rehabilitation.”
2.       What is most meaningful to you personally about the work you do and have done with RTSEMI? If you have any personal anecdotes about any projects you have done, please feel free to share them with us! 
“I am never more proud of working for Eaton than when it comes to our annual Days of Caring. We moved our work days from a weekend activity to the work week. The employees of the Southfield campus show up in force for these work days and our leaders actively encourage this. It is a true volunteer activity, Eaton giving time for our employees to give back. Prior to my time at Eaton, I worked in the non-profit sector, so I know how important volunteer support is to making a difference. I am so proud to lead this activity year after year and have such significant employee commitment as well.
As far as anecdotes go, where to start? Each event has something special… The first year, the homeowners were an elderly couple. The lady made us brownies and cried with joy while the gentleman, a retired navy man,  “supervised” our crew the entire day. What a stitch! The second year, it happened to be the homeowner’s 82nd birthday on our workday. We went got her a cake and had the whole volunteer crew sing “Happy Birthday. ”We were all touched… not a dry eye in the place! We have a large number of engineers at our campus. Over the years these folks have used lasers to precisely align the trees planted in parks; taken wood planks for plant beds or park benches/steps back to our facility so they could use power tools to rebuild these features properly. Dedication from their profession and to the cause! We also helped rehabilitate a community center one year. Not only did we work on the facility with paint and repairs, we provided office chairs and desks for their computer lab, collected funds for new lockers and sports equipment for their summer camps. Tons of work done at city parks around Southfield and when I have been out and about wearing Eaton gear, people have commented “You are the company that fixed the parks.” So many wonderful memories come to mind from each and every event throughout the years.”
3.       What made you want to come on as a board member for RTSEMI? 
“RTSEMI has done great work over the years and they are expanding the area and people they serve. The passion and commitment among the board, staff and volunteers is inspiring! I want to make a more significant contribution to RTSEMI and their efforts to improving the community, more than the annual Days of Caring activity.”

 

We are so thankful for the work Darlene does for us and the partnership we have with Eaton.

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Our Application Process Explained

We know that it can get confusing with all the information needed to apply for our home repair program so we have compiled it all into one infographic for you to understand how our entire process works! Here is our process explained from start to finish in terms of what we need from you and what we will do after receiving everything from your end. As always if you have any questions about applying with us, please reach out to our office and we will gladly help you work through it. 

 

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MLK Day 2021

MLK Blog

Martin Luther King Jr. Day is the third Monday of every January. It is the only holiday we like to recognize as an “on” day rather than an off day. We are encouraged to get up, get out, and practice some kind of service or giving back to the community in order to honor the civil rights leader’s legacy. We, as AmeriCorps members, take this to heart each year and use this day to volunteer in the community in some way shape or form. Because of the unlikely circumstances this year with the pandemic, there aren’t as many opportunities to serve and many are finding it hard to find ways to celebrate MLK Day this year. We compiled a list of resources for you to learn more about the wonderful leader through articles, videos, webinars and volunteer opportunities that are available that day to attend if you are one of those looking to make MLK day a day of service.

Volunteer opportunities:

https://americorps.gov/newsroom/events/mlk-day

https://rewardvolunteers.coop/volunteer-opportunities-MLK/

https://www.romi.gov/DocumentCenter/View/28833/2021-MLK-Jr-Service-Events

 

Informational videos:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q6SJbQrhlwo&feature=emb_logo

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PyurjhRNOmw

 

“I Have a Dream Speech”:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_yOBncaiito

 

Informational articles:

https://share.america.gov/life-legacy-martin-luther-king-jr/

https://www.nobelprize.org/prizes/peace/1964/king/biographical/

https://mlk50.civilrightsmuseum.org/dr-kings-legacy

 

May his legacy live on forever.

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The Meaning of “Home” to Us

Home has a different meaning to everyone but generally the same connotation to all. It is meant to be a safe place. Rebuilding Together exists not only to repair homes and revitalize communities but the third piece is key – to rebuild lives. We believe that by fixing the exterior we can help to create a happier and healthier interior to turn a house into a home. Let’s see what ‘home’ means to our staff here at RTSEMI…

Lindsey Johnson: “I think there is a big reason we see such a difference in the words ‘house’ and home’. A house is a structure, a foundation, a roof over your head. And don’t get me wrong, everyone who has a house is already more blessed than many others. But a home is an entirely different thing. A home is your safe place. That can mean different things to different people – where your family is, where you were born and raised and made precious memories, where you are raising your kids. Home is the happy, peaceful state in which we live our lives.”

Aliza Durack: “I associate home with people, the people I love most in the world. My family, my friends, and the safety and comfort they provide. I don’t think “home” means a building or place people stay, I think it is a space inside ourselves that we hold for other people. The more space you are able to hold for the people you love, the larger your home is. You don’t need a building to have a home, I think you just need to have people you love, and people who love you. The capacity for love is great, and I think the more I recognize that, the more I realize that your home is just a reflection of the love you give to and receive from others”

Chris Perkins: “Fittingly for this time of year, when I think of home I picture the warmth and comfort associated with Christmas. Probably because “home” becomes more significant when contrasted against a cold, dreary Michigan winter. Home means protection against the elements and protection against whatever else life might throw at you. Home means safety, familiarity, and relaxation.”

Mike Hurst: “Home is a place of unconditional love.”

We hope everyone is staying safe through the rest of this hard year and we look forward to a bright future together in 2021! Happy Holidays!

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The Significance of AmeriCorps through a Pandemic – Lindsey’s Experience

As the end of the year approaches and I am getting close to halfway through my AmeriCorps term, I took some time to reflect on what these past 5 months have looked like and how it has made me feel. Naturally, we are all struggling this year as we navigate together what it means to live in a pandemic. There have been many vast changes for all of us, myself included. With this being my second job of the year, it is easy to see the negatives that I have gone through – losing my last job, moving around, trying to find stability. But it is even easier to see the positives, all of which came from being offered the position of the AmeriCorps Wayne County Outreach Coordinator for Rebuilding Together Southeast Michigan.

With every day and week looking completely different than the last, it requires you to be extremely flexible and willing to try new things. One week might be packed full of processing homeowner applications while the next is busy with event coordination and fundraising followed by blogging, social media upkeep and marketing. I would have had no idea there are so many different pieces to running a successful nonprofit and having the chance to work on each of them is so unique. I love the responsibility I feel of being part of a very small team and having such high standards to upkeep with the importance of our mission.

This experience thus far has put everything into a different perspective for me. I have a roof over my head and a home that protects my physical and emotional well being during this hard year – many do not. Rebuilding Together’s mission is “Repairing Homes, Revitalizing Communities, Rebuilding Lives.” I have had the pleasure of witnessing all three of these things happen in front of me. Having a hand in 6 different home repair projects as well as a large-scale park revitalization project with the recruitment of 150 new volunteers all in 5 months during a pandemic…that is powerful. If nothing else, this position has shown me that people have the natural desire to help other people. None of us have a ton of time, money or energy this year as we take on our own battles but somehow, I witness our nonprofit manage to keep running by the grace of every single donor and volunteer that keeps coming back to make sure others are being served.

I am new to Detroit, I’ve lived in 4 other cities and I haven’t experienced a community that is so strongly bonded like it is here. The vulnerability of the homeowners and families I get to work with is so incredible. I hope they know that their willingness to open up to us and ask for help is nothing short of inspiring and the reason I keep going each day. Between the wonderful team I work with daily and the volunteers I work with only once, the homeowners I meet and the ones I only speak with via email, every single one has had a hand in making my experience what it is. There isn’t a job in the world that is quite like it. These skills are translatable to any job you could want to move into after the term is over. Serving with AmeriCorps has taught me so much and I truly believe it is invaluable experience you won’t find anywhere else.

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Educational Guide for Veterans on Mesothelioma and Asbestos Exposure

A message directly from The Mesothelioma Center, “Countless veterans are currently suffering from life-threatening illnesses that are a result of exposure to asbestos, a material that was commonly used in hundreds of military applications, products, and ships because of its resistance to fire. Veterans who have been diagnosed with mesothelioma even qualify for special benefits from the U.S Department of Veteran Affairs.”

As a part of the nonprofit community, we feel it is our duty to put out as many resources to people as we can when we find them. We recently came across an educational guide on Mesothelioma by The Mesothelioma Center and we felt it was a good resource to share. With veterans being one of the major populations we serve, this is an issue that directly affects a large part of this population.

Mesothelioma along with other illnesses can come from asbestos. Asbestos is ‘a group of six naturally occurring minerals composed of soft, flexible fibers that are heat-resistant.’ While asbestos is used in many military products, it can also be found inside your home in common household products as well as within the walls in the way the home was built. We have attached a link to a guide that helps explain where asbestos is most commonly found in the home, how to know if you may have it and what to do about it. This is not something to take lightly as it can lead to very serious illness. Please take the time to access these resources and as always reach out with any questions or concerns we may be able to help you with.

 

Link to locating asbestos in the home:

https://www.asbestosnetwork.com/worker-safety/asbestos-in-the-home/

Link to Mesothelioma support:

https://www.asbestos.com/support/

 

A Glance at Veteran’s in Detroit

First and foremost, Rebuilding Together Southeast Michigan wants to say THANK YOU to all of our veterans who have selflessly served this country. Veterans are a huge portion of the population we seek to serve with home repair services. The least we can do is give back to those who gave so much to this country. We wanted to take a minute to show just how important it is to help get veterans connected to resources because of the increasing need without an increase in actual resources.

In a study conducted for best and worst cities in America for veterans to live, Detroit was ranked one of the worst. Detroit was given a failing score under many categories, ranking one of the worst places to find employment as well as with homelessness being one of the most prevalent issues. We landed in the top 5 cities with the most veterans living in poverty. The quality of veteran facilities was also scored very poorly. With over 600,000 veterans residing in our state, we need to do better.

In an effort to provide veterans with as many tangible resources as possible, we have compiled a list of websites below that provide different types of help for veterans facing financial instability.

 

https://www.benefits.va.gov/detroit/

https://www.detroit.va.gov/services/homeless/index.asp

https://www.waynecounty.com/

https://www.voami.org/veterans

https://www.dav.org/

https://julieslist.homestead.com/VeteranResources.html

https://www.swsol.org/veterans-services/

 

We, of course, are here for you as well and would be happy to help answer questions about our own services at any time by emailing office@rtsemi.org. Again, we thank you for your service and Happy Veteran’s Day!

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MSHDA Grant to Help Mapleridge Homeowners

You may have seen recently that Rebuilding Together Southeast MI is urgently looking to receive homeowner applications from the neighborhood of Mapleridge in District 4 of Detroit. We wanted to take a minute to explain what that is all about! Michigan State Housing Development Authority has awarded us a $15,000 grant to be put toward 5 low-income family homes in the neighborhood of Mapleridge to be used by the end of the 2020 year. We are working to use these funds to assist with mainly exterior repairs such as gutter/fascia board replacement, porch structure/foundation repair, front step repair/handrail installation, chimney tuck pointing, roof patching/repair, exterior siding replacement, window replacement and door replacement along with a few interior repairs such as water heater and furnace replacements.

Many times, exterior repairs can be overlooked because you spend all of your time inside the home and find things that need fixing on the interior. However, most don’t quite realize the extensive damage that can be done to the home if the exterior is not safe and functioning properly. Not having a solid and porch structure and steps with handrails leads to devastating falls and injuries for elderly homeowners. Without a sealed roof that sheds water properly and functioning gutters, the house can get leaks, flooding and many other issues that lead to weakening of the foundation. Rather than letting these things go unnoticed, we do a full home inspection of every eligible applicant that we plan to work on so that our program manager can properly identify what the greatest needs of the house are to make sure it is as safe to live in as possible.

We are still currently looking for a few more homeowner applications in the Mapleridge neighborhood, zip code 48205. If you have any questions regarding our program or would like to apply, you can email us at office@rtsemi.org or call in at 313-766-4010. You can find an online and printable application on our website under the “Our Service” tab.

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Address

27840 Independence Street

Farmington Hills, MI 48336

Phone

Oakland County : 248-482-8061

Wayne County :  313-766-4010

 

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