ALEXANDRIA VA, The last Saturday in April brings out the best in the brothers of Psi Alpha Alpha and this year was no different as the chapter was once again an active and dedicated participant in the National Rebuilding Day, Saturday, April 29, 2017. This ambitious program stretches across the country and in our community, where volunteers contribute time, energy and skills improving the homes of senior citizens facing financial and other challenges. Eleven brothers (Jason Barnwell, Marion “Barney” Barnwell, Warren Bacote, Terry Cooper, Clarence Demory, Eddie Evans, Richard Garvin, Leroy Latten, Norris Middleton, Theodore Williams and Kenneth Younger) and one volunteer, Jose “JR”Lacayo, were among the more than 900 community members, in our larger northern Virginia areas of Arlington, Fairfax and Falls Church, who worked on 27 homes and several non-profit facilities during the nationally designated Rebuilding Together Day.
Psi Alpha Alpha, led by the steadfast, loyal and dedicated Barney Barnwell, who has served in this capacity for more than 27 years, was assigned a condominium in Alexandria, VA that had suffered slight earthquake damage several years ago. Though the condominium is compact and tidy, this Rebuilding Together project required several meetings at the work site and numerous trips to the hardware store to purchase necessary supplies and a few tools needed to get the job done. Expectations were to complete the project on the designated day; however, complications completing some tasks made it necessary to return to the project site the following Saturday, May 6th to ensure all tasks were not just completed but done satisfactorily. Brothers faithfully returning the following Saturday were Barney Barnwell, Clarence Demory, Leroy Latten and Kenneth Younger. Jose “JR” Lacayo, a volunteer, also returned and provided a helpful hand.
The homeowner was a very cordial female senior citizen, currently undergoing cancer treatment, who allowed required access to her home to evaluate the work to be performed and, of course, to perform those tasks agreed upon after a consultation with her. The Arlington/Fairfax/Falls Church Rebuilding Together team pre-screens each property to determine and assess those tasks which will make the home a safer and healthier place to live. Rebuilding Together’s mission is to provide, as much as possible, a safe and healthy home for our neighbors through financial and physical efforts of volunteers such Psi Alpha Alpha.
For some time, the homeowner did not have working ceiling lights in her kitchen; therefore, she was very pleased after both lights were made operable by replacing the old fixtures. The exhaust fan was also replaced. She now has a bright and more comfortable kitchen in which to cook and to clean once meals are finished. This repair was one she really enjoyed. Access to the condominium’s attic is by way of a pull down ladder in one of the bedrooms, which is uncomfortable in winter because of drafts from the attic’s trap door. To help reduce the amount of draft, our team of workers spread ceiling insulation in the attic which should make the bedroom more comfortable during the winter. Over time, air sealing the attic with insulation has the added benefit of reducing utility bills.
The smallest room in the home, the bathroom, required the greatest number of individual tasks, including, removing and replacing the basin and faucets, installing a grab bar, removing and replacing the exhaust fan, applying caulking around bathtub and shower, shaving the corners of the bathroom door to ease opening and closing, scraping peeling paint off the ceiling, several walls and the door, and, finally, painting the entire room.
Major features added to the home were two handrails installed on two separate tall staircases, making it easier for the homeowner to access the upper levels of her home. Both handrails were 12 feet in length and once installed provided right and left support while climbing the stairs. This safety feature not only makes the home a healthier place to live, it also makes it easier for the homeowner to better age in place. After installing the handrails, all walls along both staircases were painted and the handrails were stained. The homeowner was most particularly pleased with the results since it brightens her home and it makes it much safer to climb the stairs.
The brothers of Psi Alpha Alpha devoted nearly 12 working hours over two days completing the tasks at the assigned work site. Prior to and on Saturday, April 29th, several PAA committee members purchased materials and supplies in preparation for Rebuilding Together Day. Purchases included two gallons of wall paint, stain, paint brushes, drop cloths, rollers, painter’s tape, light and electrical fixtures, drop-in basin, bathroom faucets, drywall anchors, handrails, brackets, screws, spackle, paint pans, two exhaust fans, laser level, stud sensor, caulking, plumbers putty, face masks, and putty knives. All items were purchased using the $2,500.00 PAA donated to this cause which was in addition to the time, talent and labor contributed by the 11 brothers and one volunteer.
PAA is proud to participate in the Rebuilding Together social action initiative, especially since it provides an opportunity for the brothers to engage with individuals with challenges within our community and help alleviate some of their concerns about their homes so that they may focus on other matters. With respect to this particular assignment, the homeowner now has a better functioning and a more pleasant and brighter home, allowing her to focus instead on regaining her health once the cancer treatments end.
Rebuilding Together is both an important and relevant project because it establishes Psi Alpha Alpha as a positive contributor to the Arlington/Fairfax/Falls Church community. PAA is one of a number of volunteer organizations dedicated to aid in providing safe, healthy and stable homes for those with financial difficulties, housing related issues or health challenges. PAA is pleased to contribute to this very worthy cause.
Submitted By Chapter Reporter,
Brother Kevin R. WIlliams