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Rebuilding Together Kitsap answering prayers

Delores Beckwith’s guardian angels come armed with hammers and nails. Beckwith has lived in the same Bremerton house for 45 years with her husband, Delbert, and their six children.

As the years went by, the house began to show signs of wear and tear, but Delores wouldn’t even think of moving out of her home. The house was in desperate need of a new roof, but the Beckwiths couldn’t afford to fix it themselves.

She sought help and some organizations told her there was a waiting list for roof repairs.

Enter Rebuilding Together Kitsap, formerly known as Christmas in April.

The Beckwiths made a phone call and filed some paperwork. The organization sent someone out to look at the roof.

“They told me my roof couldn’t wait until April,” Delores said. The roofing was scheduled to be complete on Thursday and Friday, weather permitting.

“I prayed for a long time for the Lord to send someone to help me,” she said. For Beckwith, Rebuilding Together Kitsap was the answer to her prayers. For Monica Sorenson, executive director of Rebuilding Together Kitsap, it was all in a day’s work.

As Christmas in April, the program would rally local resources — including paid and unpaid labor, equipment and materials — and help with home repairs for elderly and low-income folks. The program is funded through grants and donations from various agencies.

The program would have an annual rebuilding day, usually the third Saturday in April.

The program recently shifted from a one-day-a-year program to year-round emergency home repair services. It still performs an April rebuilding day blitz.

Kitsap’s is one of 251 national affiliates of Rebuilding Together, Sorenson said. One of the benefits of the program is that sometimes it is able to help where others cannot. Because Rebuilding Together Kitsap does not receive federal funds, its financial guidelines for those applying for help can fluctuate.

“Just because someone has assets doesn’t mean they have funds,” Sorenson said.

Rebuilding Together Kitsap also is able to get help to those who need it faster than most agencies.

“(Some) who technically qualify would have to wait three to four years because of federal guidelines,” she said.

Rebuilding Together Kitsap has a strong network of local and national homebuilders, contractors and businesses that all pitch in. The Home Depot, for example, is a national sponsor of the Rebuilding Together program. Some of the labor is supplied by contractors for the local homebuilders associations.

The program is limited in the kind of work it can perform. The program will not do repairs on manufactured homes, for cost-efficient reasons. In addition, it will not do repairs for purely aesthetic reasons.

The home repairs should be based on quality of life, health or safety reasons, such as making a home handicap-accessible by installing guard rails, or railings in showers, Sorenson said.

The program serves all of Kitsap County’s elderly, disabled, and families with children.

While those who receive help from Rebuilding Together Kitsap are grateful, sometimes it is those who give the help who receive the benefits as well.

Charlie Mackle of Northwest Renovations in Kingston has been involved with Rebuilding Together Kitsap since 1998. During his tenure with the program he has served on the board and as a laborer.

Mackle said a friend recruited him to volunteer and it was his way of giving back to the community.

“It sounded like a good program and, me being a builder, it just made sense,” Mackle said.

For more information on Rebuilding Together Kitsap or to donate time or money, call Sorenson at (360) 479-5778 or e-mail monicas@rebuildingtogetherkitsap.org. The mailing address is 5251 Auto Center Way, Bremerton, Wash. 98312.

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