Volunteers make 'Rebuilding Together' a success

By Martha Marteney - Staff Writer
Manchester - posted Wed., May. 4, 2011
Several Starbucks employees volunteer at Manchester's Rebuilding Together, among them Eric Murphy of South Windsor, Paul Grabowski of Glastonbury and Graciela Garcia of New Britain. Photos by Martha Marteney.
Several Starbucks employees volunteer at Manchester's Rebuilding Together, among them Eric Murphy of South Windsor, Paul Grabowski of Glastonbury and Graciela Garcia of New Britain. Photos by Martha Marteney.

The 19th annual Rebuilding Together was a huge success, due in part to the beautiful spring day of April 30, but mostly due to the more than 1,500 people who volunteered to help their neighbors.

“The City of Village Charm has come out today,” said Manchester resident Jim Griffin.

Patrick Greene served as the team captain for the painting and landscaping projects done at 217 Autumn St. Greene and several members of his staff at Greene Moving and Storage worked along with employees from Starbucks and Howell Cheney Technical School students. “Especially with the last couple of years, people are having a hard time with the economy,” Greene said about his decision to join this year. “That’s the thing about Manchester. It’s a caring community.”

Asked why he decided to volunteer this year, Vernon resident Scott Woodruff said, “because I felt guilty for not coming past years.” Woodruff joined fellow members of the United Universalist Society East with the painting project at 135 Autumn St. According to team captain George Janssen of Vernon, volunteers also worked on Friday to paint the highest sections of the roof. With the help of volunteers from Bank of America, the exterior painting was completed by noon on Saturday, just in time for the volunteer picnic at Northwest Park.

Originally called Christmas in April, the program was started by then-mayor Steve Cassano, who is now Manchester’s state senator and still president of the non-profit organization. Cassano noted that in the first year, the volunteers worked on only 15 homes. Now, the volunteers transformed more than 90 homes. “It’s contagious in the neighborhoods,” said Cassano, commenting on the positive impact of the work done. “The neighbors are so thrilled.”

Maria Arsenault’s family purchased the home at 86 Linden St. in 1978, and she has owned it for 11 years. After several mishaps with contractors and out of work herself, Arsenault finally called Rebuilding Together because her roof was leaking. With that problem fixed, it was time for the house to be painted. Arsenault said she had bought the paint last year, but due to the issues with the painting contractor, the paint remained in the barn over the winter and froze. When she opened a can this spring, instead of looking at the same light slate blue color the house had been, she saw a bright blue, which she immediately loved. New paint was supplied in that same bright blue color.

“We help people who are in need,” explained state Rep. Jack Thompson (D-13th District), “and there’s a lot of camaraderie among the volunteers.” Rebuilding Together helps lower-income homeowners keep their homes livable and aesthetically pleasing for the neighborhood. Licensed professional contractors are used for all electrical, plumbing and carpentry projects, although even their time is often on a volunteer-basis.

Rebuilding Together is managed by program co-directors Scott Garman, assistant director of the town’s recreation department, and Liz Tracy, recreation department supervisor. For more information on Rebuilding Together, visit the town website: townofmanchester.org/rebuildingtogether.


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