Rebuilding Together Washington County (RTWC) is starting its year off the same way it has for the past 20 years, preparing for National Rebuilding Day. Over the years, we have helped keep hundreds of local families safe, warm, dry, and living in their own homes by providing free home repairs.

Our National Rebuilding Day work started with a gift from longtime supporter Pat Caughlan, a gift made in honor of Robert (Bob) Meinert. Bob has been a volunteer, advocate, donor, champion, board member and true friend to RTWC since our beginning.  Bob has been volunteering on National Rebuilding Day since we started in 1994. During the second year of volunteering, he invited Pat, and their friend Lee Fisher, to join him driving the van and delivering supplies for the different building projects. Pat started volunteering because of the respect and admiration he had for Bob; his tutor, best man, business partner, and lifelong friend. In his 20 years of supporting Rebuilding Together’s National Rebuilding Day, his perspective has changed and his commitment to the mission has grown.

Caughlan NRD 2014About five years ago, Pat invited a friend to join him on a project for the day. Volunteers were helping a family of 6 make repairs to their single-wide mobile home in Cornelius. The home was bursting at the seams in people, and was in need of so much work. On National Rebuilding Day, volunteers were able to make a number of repairs to the home, including: fixing the kitchen plumbing, repairing a roof, and completely removing contaminants of a bedroom. The bedroom needed to be cleaned so one of the four daughters could come home from the hospital. The friend was glad to be able to help this family, but was surprised and shocked that anyone would choose to live in the conditions that this family was experiencing.

Before Bob introduced Pat to Rebuilding Together, Pat’s life experiences were similar to his friend’s. He had been fortunate to have always lived in a comfortable house and make repairs as necessary. He had not realized the value having a roof and bob meinertan address had, because he had never been near homelessness. After 20 years of volunteering with RTWC he has seen that even living in a home with no hot water, a leaky roof, and holes in the floor, is better than living on the street.  He has seen that providing any stable roof for a family can be a real challenge, and is an accomplishment for the people RTWC serves, some of the financially poorest in Washington County. Thanks to Bob, Pat volunteers, donates, and champions for Rebuilding Together Washington County and the homeowners it serves because he has seen how hard they work, how proud they are of their homes, and the difference a couple dollars and a few hours of service can make on a home.

Bob recently passed away, and this will be the first ever RTWC National Rebuilding Day without Bob. Bob served RTWC as long as he could, making it is number one commitment to our community for the past 21 years, giving of his time, skills, money, and leadership while he served as board president. Even though Bob is unable to join us, his legacy will be seen on National Rebuilding Day. It is seen in the administration and mission of the organization, it will be shared at the home that Pat is co-sponsoring, and it will be passed to all the volunteers and homeowners who continue to learn about the safe, warm, and dry home repairs needs in our county.

It is our hope to serve 15 more homes this National Rebuilding Day, Saturday, April 30th. We are encouraged by the leadership of Bob and Pat and are committed to working hard in the coming months to reach our goals.

Get updates when we publish other conversations with community – sign up here.