main banner

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Volunteers repair homes of elderly widows

Volunteers use non-slip roofing shingles on the outside stairs at the Queen Elizabeth Boulevard house.
Dozens of local church members spent the day on April 29 fixing up two homes in Annandale for lower-income elderly residents who can no longer manage the repairs themselves.

The annual Rebuilding Together program, on the last Saturday in April, is sponsored by Annandale Christian Community for Action (ACCA), a coalition of local churches.

ACCA volunteer Camille Mittelholtz and Loan Nguyen in Nguyen's living room.
Volunteers from St. Barnabas Episcopal Church, Annandale United Methodist Church, and the Annandale Virginia Stake of the Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter Day Saints worked on a house at 8613 Queen Elizabeth Blvd.

They painted the siding, rebuilt the outdoor steps, installed circuit interrupters, installed grab bars and a handheld shower in a bathroom, painted a bedroom, repaired a banister, fixed an outdoor shed, and trimmed the bushes.

A volunteer paints the exterior of Nguyen's house.
The homeowner, Loan Nguyen, a 72-year-old widow, had lived in the house for 40 years. She cared for her husband, who had been an engineer at Boeing, for 29 years after he suffered a debilitating stroke that left him partially paralyzed and confused. He often thought there was a crowd of people in his bed and closet, and she had to chase them away, she said.

Volunteers work on the Watkins Trail house. 
Nguyen had lost her home and business in Vietnam and had escaped from jail 10 times before fleeing the country by boat and spending four months in a refugee camp in Indonesia. She and her husband raised five children in the Annandale house and she now has six grandchildren.

At the other house, at 4116 Watkin Trail, volunteers from Ravensworth Baptist Church, John Calvin Presbyterian Church, and Providence Presbyterian Church put in a new front door and storm doors, mulched the front yard plants, removed dead limbs from a tree, removed old carpeting, fixed the patio, repaired the plumbing, replaced two toilets, and fixed leaks in the roof.

Diep Ba Vuong and co-captain for that house project, Laurie Lewis. 
“I expected a little help, but not all this,” said the homeowner, Diep Ba Vuong, 71. Since her husband died suddenly a year and a-half ago, “I have no one to care for me,” she said. The Vuongs lived in that house for 20 years, raising two children. There are four grandchildren, including one born just a few days ago.

The ACCA home repair project is carried out in partnership with the Rebuilding Together organization, a nonprofit based in Fairfax. That organization does an initial assessment and vets the homeowners, said Camille Mittelholtz of St. Barnabas. House captains from ACCA figure out what work needs to be done, what supplies are needed, and decide what to purchase within a budget of about $3,500 for each house.

ACCA's Rebuilding Together project takes months of planning and dozens of volunteers.


  1. Nice focus on volunteers, but I have to say 71- and 72-years- old is hardly "elderly."

  2. Kudos to the volunteers who've helped make life a bit better and brighter for our community members. Thank you for the good deeds!!