Hundreds volunteer to help repair South Bend homes

Hundreds of volunteers spent their Saturday on South Bend’s southeast side repairing nearly two dozen homes as part of a local charity event.

“We had 13 roofs that we put on,” Jim Scheetz said. “We had furnaces go in, hot water heaters, a lot of plumbing work. Almost all the houses had exterior, interior painting done, electrical upgrades, carpenters were working on all the houses; we had gutters put on. So we’ve done a lot of work for these homeowners and at no cost.”

Scheetz is the president of Rebuilding Together St. Joseph County.

For two weekends each year, local businesses, colleges and community members come together with his organization to improve and repair the homes of South Bend residents in need.

It’s all free of charge and all volunteer and donation-based.

“In general, the applicants that we get…have to meet income guidelines, but out of those applicants, we try to focus on the elderly and disabled,” Scheetz said.

St. Mary’s College had more than 70 volunteers working Saturday, including their cross country team.

“We formally sponsor a house monetarily, but our larger effort is really getting volunteers out and actually doing the work,” Erika Buhring, director of St. Mary’s College Office for Civic & Social Engagement, said.

They helped transform a home on Indiana Ave., painting the entire exterior, among other improvements.

Some of the girls got to meet the homeowner they were helping.

“She was so grateful,” St. Mary’s student and cross country runner Brittany Beeler said. “And it just makes your heart happy to know that you’re able to help somebody who needs it.”

A few blocks over, volunteers swarmed the home of Richard Brooks, upgrading his electric and giving his home’s interior and exterior a facelift.

He said he originally only needed a minor roof repair.

“I got a whole lot more than that!” Brooks said.

The event is in its 27th year and has completed work on more than 600 homes, including 19 houses this year.

More than 400 volunteers participated in “Community Volunteer Day” on Saturday, while over 200 skilled trades workers participated in “Skilled Trades Day” the previous Saturday.

Scheetz said it’s all thanks to the volunteers, who recognize the importance of a couple days of giving.

“In order to have a good community, I mean, you have to put your best foot forward,” Scheetz said.

And by doing so, volunteers are touching the lives they are helping.

“There’s some really good people with big hearts that have been here today and last week too,” Brooks said. “It’s impressive.”

Though 2016’s event is over, you can still get involved with Rebuilding Together St. Joseph County all year long.

You can visit their website for details. 

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