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Report Back From Rebuilding Together

by Alex Madonik

Rebuilding Together 2016    Each year, Kehilla partners with Rebuilding Together and with other local congregations to carry out repairs on a home in our community. For 2016, Tree Gelb Stuber and Alex Madonik arranged for Kehilla to work with Rebuilding Together East-Bay North (formerly Berkeley-Albany-Emeryville) and Congregation Netivot Shalom on a project in south Berkeley. With other local volunteer groups, we undertook to paint the living room, dining room, and hallway, and carry out other minor repairs, at the home of Brenda, an elderly Filipina woman whose home needed a lot of decluttering.

With the help of her son and daughter, the rooms were cleared and covered with tarps, ready for patching and priming when our small but dedicated crew arrived on April 10th.  We enjoyed muffins baked by Irene McPhail, and coffee and donuts delivered by Amy Shutkin.  Together with volunteers from Rebuilding Together East Bay-North, we set to work and primed every surface and every window in the living room and dining room, and many areas got their first coat of finish paint.  Max Weinryb installed GFCI outlets in the kitchen and bathroom, while Bob Olken repaired the shower enclosure and installed two grab bars in the bathroom.  Ron Cohen performed major “surgery” with his scraper and caulking gun in the morning, while Tisha DeSiena painted heroically in the afternoon.

The next week, on April 17th, we were back to continue the painting.  Tree, along with Nelson Max and his children David and Lisa, were everywhere finishing walls and trim, while Brenda’s son June helped me carry doors outside for cleaning and painting.  He then teamed up with Jim Rosenau of Temple Beth Abraham to carry out major structural repairs to the back deck.  Jim had already performed the seemingly effortless replacement of two rotten double-hung sash windows, and his wife Dianne painted tirelessly into the early afternoon.  Bob Olken installed new shelves and fixtures in the bathroom.  Finally, it was time to peel off the tape on the windows, roll up the tarps, and move the furniture back into place.  When we reconnected the phones and cable TV, it started to seem like a home again, but we didn’t leave until the Wifi was working, too.

It was a privilege to work with Gabriella Bova, our RT-EBN House Captain, with her husband Blaze, and with the other volunteers she recruited to make this project a success.

Looking ahead to next year, please pencil in April 23rd and April 30, 2017 – and let me know if you’d like to help with a specific task, or can bring a specific volunteer group.  We’d love to include your chavurah, as well as Kehilla teens, Glitter Kehilla, and so on.  Let’s talk about how to build support for our Rebuilding Together project!  I’ll encourage our partners in the Jewish community to do the same.

Thanks again to everyone who helped out!

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