SEATTLE - With every blade of grass cut and every weed pulled, homeowner Eva Ridley feels like she's getting a piece of herself back.
“Here I am, 74, and all this is getting restored,” Ridley said. “And I am so blessed.”
Ridley and her family are the only people to have ever lived in the 18th Avenue home since it was built in 1977. But her son is all grown up and has since moved out. Her husband died in 2009. As Ridley's health declined, so did her home. But despite the changes to her life and to the neighborhood, Ridley is determined to stay.
“The homeowners, they try to buy us out. They want us to sell,” Ridley explained. “I'm staying put for the time being.”
It's all thanks to a nonprofit organization called "Rebuilding Together Seattle." Dozens of volunteers work on much needed repairs outside and inside Ridley's home to make it safe for her to live on her own.
“What we hope to do is keep homeowners in place. In Seattle right now, with all the cost of housing going up, it's very difficult for people who are elderly, low income, or disabled to be able to age in place safely,” Rebuilding Together Seattle board member Joe Torres said.
It's free for recipients like Ridley.
All of the work is done in one day. In Ridley's case, it includes replacing the carpet in the basement, which flooded, and fixing a hole in the ceiling left behind when she waited too long to replace her roof.
“I've been doing this, I think, for 16 years now, and it's super rewarding,” volunteer Ed Ball added.
Rewarding because volunteers understand the impact and the independence these renovations represent to folks like Ridley.
She doesn't take their generosity for granted.
“It makes you want to give of yourself. Anything you can give to help someone else,” Ridley said. “It's a blessing.”
If you or anyone you know is in need some home repair help, you can log onto http://www.rtseattle.org/ and apply for help.
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