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Chicago Woman Keeps Her Home Thanks to National Rebuilding Day: See What’s Happening in Your Community

Learn more about the ways Rebuilding Together works to ensure that community members in need can stay in their homes.
Deirdre Mundorf Avatar
Volunteer of Rebuilding Together stands with Barbara Bischoff in front of her Illinois home.


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Barbara Bischoff is a resident of the Village of Wilmette, located about 15 miles from downtown Chicago. She lives in a home that is more than 100 years old, and last year, was told that she would need to have the structurally unsound garage taken down. With her job as a floral designer in a local grocery store, Bischoff didn’t see how she could afford to pay for the old garage’s removal. But, selling the home and renting an apartment also wasn’t a viable option due to the high rental costs in the area. “I was just despondent at that point,” Bischoff says. She was going to lose her beloved home and had no idea how she would find another place to live.

After someone from the Village of Wilmette suggested filling out an application with Rebuilding Together, Barbara decided to give it a shot. “I was flabbergasted. Why would somebody help me?,” she remembers thinking. “And, lo and behold, 3 weeks later, I get a letter, and they’re going to help me. And it began this whole process of people I’ve never met in my life reaching out to try and do what they could so that I could keep my home.” 

As Bischoff explains, “a core value from what I understand about Rebuilding Together is creating opportunities for the community to come together and see what a big impact they can have.” Rebuilding Together had a huge impact on Bischoff’s life. Volunteers tore down the unsafe garage, with support from Team Rubicon, plus they helped tame her overgrown yard

When recounting the experience, even a year later, Barbara remains amazed at the selflessness and generosity she received. “It was like having angels show up,” she says. “Are angels real? Yes, angels are real, and they look like ordinary people.”

When asked about the work that was completed for Barbara, Sharon Riley, the executive director of Rebuilding Together North Suburban Chicago (RTNSC), said, “We were thrilled when we had the resources to assist Barbara, who was not only a long-time village resident, but also a delightful and civic-minded citizen who had given back to her community over many years as a volunteer.”

What Is National Rebuilding Day?

Volunteers help to move a new bathtub into a house in Jersey City.
Photo: Chito’s Photography via

National Rebuilding Day is celebrated on the last Saturday of April. On this day and in the weeks leading up to it, Rebuilding Together—a nonprofit organization—along with local volunteers, helps community members complete necessary repairs and improve the safety of their homes. These neighbors in need might be elderly community members, veterans, or individuals facing damage to their property that was caused by a natural disaster. 

The repair services are provided for free and can make it possible for the individuals or family to remain in their home without facing the difficult decision of choosing between food, medical needs, or paying for renovations. National Rebuilding Day is the culmination of National Rebuilding Month, which lasts for the entire month of April and is designed to encourage individuals to offer their service to help others in need.

Rebuilding Together has a national office in Washington, D.C. There are also more than 120 affiliates spanning nearly 40 states that each hold their own National Rebuilding Day events. If you are in need of help or are looking for ways to volunteer, find your local affiliate on the Rebuilding Together website. Below is information about the activities a few of the affiliates have planned to help the members of their community this year on National Rebuilding Day.

Rebuilding Together North Suburban Chicago, Illinois

A before and after picture of a condemned garage torn down.

National Rebuilding Day is a day of joyful and loving service,” says Riley. “Our repairs and improvements often enhance the quality of life for our neighbors, enabling them to remain in their homes in greater health, safety, and independence, and may help increase their equity in their homes.”

RTNSC has a lot planned for National Rebuilding Day this year. Riley says that the organization “has engaged 17 dedicated volunteer teams to complete repairs and improvements at 15 homes.” RTNSC will also be completing repairs for three properties belonging to Boys Hope Girls Hope, which is a nonprofit organization. “It’s about fostering a positive change for those who have come up against difficult circumstances and making a difference that lasts,” Riley says.

Rebuilding Together Washington County, Oregon

Volunteers in Washington County Oregon stand in front of a home they painted.

Rebuilding Together Washington County does a lot of work to help low-income community members remain in their homes. As Executive Director Joan Goldhammer explains, much of their work also centers around helping elderly community members age in place. “By installing items such as grab bars, handrails, ADA-compliant toilets, and building wheelchair ramps, many people who might have had to move to an assisted living situation or a skilled nursing facility due to injuries from falls are able to remain living safely in their own homes,” she says.

For this year’s National Rebuilding Day on April 27, Rebuilding Together Washington County will help several local homeowners. “We will be painting four manufactured homes to help prevent eviction of the homeowners,” says Goldhammer. At another home, a team will rebuild steps and install handrails “so that the homeowner can safely enter and exit their home.” 

If you live in Washington County and would like to volunteer on National Rebuilding Day or at another time, Goldhammer says, “We are also seeking volunteers willing to commit to doing a repair project with another one of our volunteers based on their preferences.” They can volunteer to do one project per week, month, or quarter. The nonprofit also is accepting applications for two new spots on its board of directors. 

Rebuilding Together Montgomery County, Maryland

Volunteers work on repairing a home in Maryland.

“National Rebuilding Day brings immediate, large-scale impact to our community,” says Shelby Badger, the Development & Communications Coordinator of Rebuilding Together Montgomery County. “We help people by addressing safety concerns, improving the quality of life for residents, and preserving the affordable housing stock in the county for future generations.”

Rebuilding Together Montgomery County has big plans this year. They are expecting more than 400 volunteers who will work in teams to provide much-needed repairs for homeowners and local nonprofit organizations in Maryland County. Beyond making a tax-deductible donation to the organization, individuals looking for ways to help “can also support by informing those in their life who may benefit from our services and by joining us as a volunteer in next year’s National Rebuilding Day,” Badger says.

Rebuilding Together South Sound, Washington

Rebuilding Together South Sound will also be helping community members ensure that their homes are safe this April. With the help of volunteers, the organization completes projects for 20 residents in need each year. Community members and local businesses interested in helping are encouraged to sign up at least 3 weeks ahead of the event to help leverage their skills and put them to the best type of work. 

If you live in the area and missed the chance to sign up for National Rebuilding Day this year, there are still other ways to help. Rebuilding Together South Sound also hosts monthly rebuilding opportunities between April and November each year. These projects center around the organization’s Safe at Home program, which aims to increase home safety for elderly neighbors.

Rebuilding Together Jersey City, New Jersey

A before and after of a small kitchen torn out and remodeled.

While Rebuilding Together Jersey City (RTJC) typically holds their Rebuilding Day in April, this year the event will take place on June 29. President of the Board Erich Sekel explains the importance of the organization’s work: “Just because someone owns a home does not necessarily mean they have the resources to maintain it, especially when disasters, floods, [and] leaks happen.” He adds that life events, illnesses, job losses, and rising costs often make it difficult for people to keep up their homes. “We try to help alleviate that stress through our work,” he says.

In June, when RTJC volunteers assemble, they will be helping various members of the community. Sekel shares, “One family this year will receive all new kitchen cabinets, sink, and countertop.” Another homeowner will receive repairs to their ceiling and walls to fix water damage. For those in or around Jersey City who would like to help, Sekel says that volunteers—particularly skilled tradesmen— are always appreciated. He also notes that monetary donations are essential to purchase the necessary materials to complete renovation and repair projects.