Local companies help rebuild Milwaukee area homes

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Nearly a dozen Milwaukee-area companies will help Rebuilding Together Greater Milwaukee, a nonprofit organization dedicated to preserving affordable homeownership and revitalizing communities, celebrate its 10 year anniversary by participating in National Rebuilding Day on Saturday, May 15.
The day is part of a national effort of volunteers and sponsors who will provide free home rehabilitation for low income homeowners in the community. The organization will provide home repairs to ten low income senior homeowners in the area.
“All of the work is done by volunteers from the local corporations and small businesses that sponsor us,” said Lynnea Katz-Petted, executive director of Rebuilding Together of Greater Milwaukee.
Since its inception, the organization has helped nearly 400 individuals in the Milwaukee area receive needed repairs on the houses they own free of charge, Katz-Petted said.
Sponsors for the spring rebuilding day homes include: Associated Bank, M&I Bank, Wisconsin Association of Home Inspectors, Tri City National Bank, Wells Fargo, Findorff Builders, Wisconsin Commercial Real Estate Women, American Family Insurance, York, Gross Heating and Air Conditioning, We Energies, Wisconsin Women Environmental Professionals, and Cricket Wireless.
“This is the first year we are sponsoring a house,” said Alan Ruesch, president and owner of Gross Heating and Air Conditioning. “We’ve been fortunate that our business has weathered the recession pretty well, and so it’s a way for us to be grateful and give back to the community as well.”
Volunteers will help local low income homeowners with basic repairs that are necessary for them to maintain quality of life, Katz-Petted said.
Saturday teams will be replacing water faucets, washer dryers, doing minor plumbing and electrical repairs, painting, creating sub floors, installing or repairing porches, assistive devices, water heaters and other appliances.
According to Ruesch, his company even installed a new furnace for its sponsored home-owner.
According to Katz-Petted, Rebuilding Together Greater Milwaukee receives more than 150 applications a year from elderly, people with disabilities or veterans applying for assistance with their home repairs.
“The work that we do as an organization and with our volunteers is critical for these people to live,” Katz-Petted said. “Applicants are vetted to make sure they own their own homes, and they are contributing members of society. Many of our homeowners are people who just can’t keep up with basic home repairs due to physical disabilities or financial means.”
The goal of the organization is to make sure that these people can easily and conveniently age in place while maintaining the tax base for the community, Katz-Petted said.
Cricket Communications is involved with the Rebuilding Together day on a national level and more than 20 Cricket Communication employees from the Milwaukee area will help local resident Wilma McGee with her needed home repairs.
“Cricket Communications is one of the top sponsors of the Rebuilding Together Initiatives,” Carrie McKenzie, district director of Cricket said. “We’re involved both on a local level here in Milwaukee, but also on a national level for a number of different reasons. Most importantly, Cricket believes very strongly in giving back to the community because the community has been so very supportive of us.”
As part of the sponsorship deal, Cricket Communications also provides each homeowner with a mobile phone and one free year of service, McKenzie said.
Rebuilding Together Greater Milwaukee hosts another rebuilding day in October, Katz-Petted said. The organization is currently looking for corporations to sponsor houses for that session as well.
“Sponsorship for a lot of things has dwindled a lot over the last year. Kudos to the companies who have decided this is a worthwhile cause to get involved with,” Katz-Petted said. “It’s very rewarding for everyone involved.”

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