Rebuilding Together to repair 17 South Bend homes

NOW: Rebuilding Together to repair 17 South Bend homes

SOUTH BEND, Ind.-- For nearly 35 years, Rebuilding Together St. Joseph County, a program through South Bend Heritage, has been doing critical repairs to the homes of those in need.  

Since 1989, they've done nearly $12 million in these repairs, and 900 homes were affected. They’ve recorded over 40,000 volunteers over the years, and over 200,000 volunteer hours.  

Seventeen homes have been selected to receive this year’s round of repairs, and roughly 600 volunteers will help the effort.

“Our focus, again, is around the elderly, the disabled, and veterans,” said Andre Waddell, board chairman of Rebuilding Together.  

“I know that the city’s made a large commitment to the west side of town,” said Kristin Givens, Rebuilding Together program director. “So that’s the area that we’ve been in for the last two years, for sure.”

Homes were chosen in South Bend’s far west side, as well as some in the Kennedy Park Neighborhood.

“This program is funded by the community block development grant, and also in part by local businesses that donate house sponsorships,” Givens said. “So that money goes directly to the repairs you see on different homes.”

Those who help each year are passionate about giving back in this way.  

“I’ve seen that last year firsthand, with a veteran who was nearly in tears watching his house be totally refurbished,” said Sheila Niezgodski, South Bend Common Council’s 6th District representative.

Don Wheeler inspects every house to determine what repairs need done.  

“I’ve been in every house,” he said. “I did the inspections. And it’s a sobering trip. So you want to help out.”

This year includes roughly nine roofs, eight HVAC systems, six electrical upgrades, and serious plumbing work.  

“A lot of little stuff,” Wheeler said. “A lot of carpentry, a lot of painting. We’re trying to take a neighborhood and show it we care.”

Trades workers provide the skills for the complex restorations. And, city officials say projects like these can help restore pride in South Bend’s neighborhoods.

“Area beautification,” Niezgodski said. “Maybe just that paint job, or maybe just planting some flowers. I think that it brings more pride into the neighborhoods too.”

Saturday, April 15 will be “Skilled Trades Day,” and Saturday, April 29 will be “Volunteer Day” for Rebuilding Together.  

To get involved, donate, or learn more, click here.

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