For the past 20 years, Rebuilding Together Oakland (RTO), formerly Christmas in April, has brought together low income homeowners and community volunteers to repair the homes of seniors and/or the disabled so they may continue to live in safety, comfort and independence. RTO projects include energy-efficiency upgrades, safety modifications, roof repairs, repainting, fence repair, and more. They also help with such repairs in facilities that serve community-based organizations.
For the fifth year in a row, volunteers from Bell Investment Advisors, 1111 Broadway, Suite 1630, Oakland, joined forces with volunteers from the law firm of Wendel Rosen Black & Dean LLP, located in the same building, to work together on an RTO project. Laurent Harrison, CFP®, Sr. Investment Advisor and Financial Planner at Bell, has served on the RTO Board of Directors for 4 1/2 years; Lauren Taylor, Operations Associate served this year as coordinator of the Bell team; and Matt Graham of Wendel Rosen served once again this year as the Wendel/Bell house captain. In addition to the volunteer efforts of staff, both firms support RTO with regular financial contributions.
This year’s project involved Evelyn’s Room and Board in East Oakland. The owners of the home, who lovingly look after eight disabled adult residents, are seniors themselves and have been unable to keep up with the needed maintenance and repairs of their home. Between 40 and 50 volunteers representing both firms, came out on each of two Saturdays in April, to completely repaint the house, inside and out, and make multiple needed repairs.
Even though the work is usually difficult and exhausting, there is always a tremendous sense of camaraderie and satisfaction in being part of such a group effort. The real payoff comes at the end of the second Saturday, when the proud team gathers behind the Rebuilding Together Oakland banner in front of the freshly repaired and repainted home for a photo of the happy owners, the volunteers, and the “Big Reveal” of the transformed property.
If you are interested in participating in an RTO project yourself, you are welcome to either join our 2017 project or consider other possibilities. Contact Alice Matthews, Program Manager, at the RTO headquarters: www.rtoakland.org/contact-us.html, 510.625.0316, or firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also participate by making referrals to RTO of low income homeowners who may be in need of the type of help described above in order to remain in their homes.