SMC volunteers repair homes through Rebuilding Tomorrow
Alex Winegar | Monday, April 14, 2014
On Saturday, Saint Mary’s students woke up bright and early to volunteer for Rebuilding Together of St. Joseph County, a non-profit community-driven organization that repairs local homes.
Chris Dressel, “house captain” for the laborers at the home, said the city looks for homes and qualified persons of low to moderate income, the elderly or disabled that do not have the means to carry out projects by themselves.
“We look for a pride in ownership in the house, someone that tries to do the best they can with their house,” Dressel said.Director of the Office for Civic and Social Engagement (OCSE) Erika Buhring said the OCSE donated $3,500 to sponsor a house. Buhring said this event provides Saint Mary’s students with the opportunity to invest in the community and see what is developing in the South Bend.
“I think [students] can see that it’s good to get out into the community beyond Saint Mary’s and see such a big change so quickly,” Buhring said. “It also gives you a chance to work together for kind of a common goal.”
Dressel said this was his 11th year working as a house captain. He said he has helped with a lot of projects, and it is rewarding each time to see the results.
“It’s great how people that may be strangers to each other at the beginning of the day come together and make a difference,” Dressel said. “You are working together to better this house and also the neighborhood this house resides in. If you consider that Rebuilding Together has worked in almost every neighborhood in the city in the last 27 years, you’re talking dozens of homes that have been fixed.”
Homeowner Lynn-Joyce Dolson, whose home the volunteers repaired, said she is a firm supporter of Saint Mary’s because the College empowers women. Dolson said she was thankful for all of the help with her home.
“There are a whole lot of things [the volunteers] could have done with [their] weekend,” Dolson said. “There are no words that I can ever form in my brain to tell you how much I appreciate [them] being here.”
Volunteer Grace Pingel said her experience was great, and she enjoyed getting to know Dolson.
“My experience has been awesome,” Pingel said. “The thing I like most about volunteer projects is getting to know the people I’m actually helping. So it was really nice talking to Joyce and getting to know her.”
Dressel said his favorite part of Rebuilding Together is seeing the excitement and surprise in owners’ eyes when they see their home.
“I had a case one of my first years where the husband was at work on a Saturday, and he came home, and he actually drove past the house because he didn’t recognize it anymore,” Dressel said. “It looked like a completely different house. It’s nice to see everyone come together. I’ve always had a positive experience with the volunteers, especially the student volunteers, who come in with a great attitude and to get things done.”