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Monday, May 2, 2016

Volunteers from Annandale churches repair homes for those in need

ACCA volunteers work on a house on Terrace Drive, Annandale.

Dozens of volunteers from local churches spent all day Saturday repairing two houses in Annandale as part of the annual Annandale Christian Community for Action’s (ACCA) Rebuilding Together program.

One house, on Terrace Drive, is occupied by two adult men with autism and a caretaker. The other, on Little River Turnpike, is the home of a widow. Both houses had serious defects that the owners could not afford to fix.

The Terrace Drive house is in the Columbia Pines neighborhood.
This is the 27th year that ACCA has been undertaking this program. So far, they’ve worked on 117 houses, reports Marie Monsen, the ACCA Rebuilding Together coordinator.

Forty-seven people worked on the house on 3706 Terrace Drive, including members of John Calvin Presbyterian Church, Providence Presbyterian Church, and Holy Spirit Catholic Church. Volunteers from Queen of Apostles Catholic Church brought food for them.

The two men who live there stayed in a hotel while their home was being repaired, says Richard Booth of Community Living Alternatives (CLA), who serves as house manager. One of residents is verbal and one is not.
Volunteers paint the basement of the home on Terrace Drive.
The biggest problem with that house is poor drainage, and water leaks have caused a lot of damage and costly water bills, says Monsen. CLA has been spending $500 every six months to clean out the pipes.
Volunteers fix the drainage system at the Terrace Drive house.
The ACCA volunteers replaced some of the pipes and repaired a wall that was leaning due to water leaks. They also fixed a gate, repaired the unsafe steps at the front door, painted all the interior walls, put in a new kitchen cabinet, repaired floor tiles in the basement, and cleared brush in the backyard. They even reinforced a section of the basement wall where one of the residents repeatedly bangs his head.

Marie Monsen shows where some plants had to be relocated at the Terrace Drive house.
Volunteers from St. Barnabas’ Episcopal Church, Annandale United Methodist Church, and the Annandale Stake of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints carried out the repairs at 7730 Little River Turnpike. Lincolnia United Methodist Church provided lunch.

That house had been added on to several times over the years. On the outside of the house, the ACCA crew repaired a retaining wall by the driveway, put concrete over the opening of an old well in the backyard, installed a handrail on the outside stairs, painted the roof on a shed, painted the window trim, did lots of yard work, and cut down a diseased tree.

7730 Little River Turnpike.
On the inside, they installed grab bars; put in grounded interrupt plugs in the kitchen, bathroom, and utility room; rearranged the electric outlets to minimize the use of extension cords; replaced a kitchen light; repaired the plumbing; fixed a storm door; cleaned and weatherized the portable air conditioning units; and cleaned out a storage room.

“I’m more than grateful,” says the homeowner, Byung Soon (Ann) Park, age 71. “I am so blessed. This is amazing. It was impossible. There were so many things wrong with the house.” She was thrilled to be able to wash dishes with hot water. Due to broken faucet, she didn’t have hot water in the kitchen sink for two years.

Volunteers take a lunch break.
Park’s husband, a physician specializing in internal medicine, died “eight years and three months ago,” she says, when he had a heart attack and fell down the stairs. She was visiting her daughter in the south of France at the time and had a harrowing journey getting home. “I miss him every single day,” she says.

The ACCA volunteers had hoped to paint the wooden deck but it was too wet, so they plan to come back and do it later, says Frank Spink of St. Barnabas, who’s been serving as co-captain of ACCA’s Rebuilding project for nearly 25 years.

The Rebuilding Together organization selects the homeowners, who must meet certain income requirements, he says. They also have to agree not to sell their homes for three years. Most of them are elderly and need help with repairs so they can stay in their homes. 

Plumbing work in the kitchen of Park's house.
The churches contribute to the cost of sponsoring a house, which averages about $3,500 and covers insurance for the volunteers, Monsen says. Rebuilding Together provides some of the supplies, such as grab bars, which it can purchase in bulk. ACCA also provides some supplies, like paint, which gets at a discount from Home Depot.

Some of the ACCA volunteers had been building contractors or have expertise in home improvements, while others help out with the grunt work, like moving furniture and putting tape on moldings.

Park's house is close to the Little River Turnpike exist on the beltway.
“It’s amazing that we have so many pockets of need here,” Monsen says. “There are so many seniors who decided to age in place. The maintenance is beyond them, due to cost or health issues.”  For a group home, “painting and planting a few bushes can really perk things up and change your attitude about life.” 

It’s a huge amount of work, but “at the end of the day,” she says, “the volunteers feel as good as the residents.”


  1. What an amazing work well done by ACCA volunteers. May the good Lord bless you all.

  2. I love seeing this kind of news. What an amazing group of people, making the world better one painted deck at a time...