Josh Swinnie - Former PCHTF Intern

Community Engagement Administrator

Josh Swinnie - Former PCHTF Intern

Some of the best lessons in life come outside the classroom and in my case, inside my childhood neighborhood.  During my internship with the Polk County Housing Trust Fund, Executive Director Eric Burmeister encouraged me to be passionate about helping people and in turn good things would happen in my life.  One wonderful coincidence was that part of my internship would be helping low-income residents in the neighborhood I grew up in.  

While many in the Ingleside neighborhood received help with home projects, repairs and weatherization during my four-month internship, there were several residents that qualified for help but had not received any.  Mr. Burmeister encouraged me to get involved and be part of following up and making sure they were helped.  

The partnering non-profit we turned to for assistance was Rebuilding Together.  I had witnessed their work, as well as Habitat for Humanity’s during a Rock-the-Block event during my internship and knew they could make a positive difference.  I did some follow up with residents who had received help from Rebuilding Together in 2012. Below are comments from two elderly residents who participated in the survey.

Homeowner: Ella D.

What repairs did you receive?

Rebuilt back porch, painted wheelchair ramp to match house, painted dining room, tile in dining room and kitchen, new cupboards, new refrigerator, new dishwasher, new toilet, sink and tile in bathroom.

How did service providers and workers treat you?

Everybody was beautiful.  I couldn’t ask for more.  I was sick and everyone had love in their heart.  The workers stopped what they were doing and helped my 6 year old grandson plant a garden.

How was the work that was done?

The work was very good.  They were volunteers and did well for not being tradesmen

What would you tell someone who was thinking of approaching Rebuilding Together about getting help?

It’s a great Organization to go through.  Everyone worked hard and was willing to work over time. I would have to tell them go home and get some rest and spend time with their families.  My organizer would stay late and come back early to complete work.  I’m very happy and I would not have been able to do any of this on my own.  I’m very thankful.

Homeowner:  “Mr. X”

He had attempted to pay others to fix the bathroom problems.  The worker he gave a $100 down payment to never came back to do the work. So he then called Rebuilding Together.

What work did you receive?

Two bathroom toilets and sink in bathroom.  Repair of a hole that was getting worse and worse during rainy season with plaster falling down. The conditions were unsafe for me at my age.  Rebuilding sent a chimney man who showed up the very next day.  He stayed for three weeks to find, fix, and repair all the problems.  He told me, “We will not leave you like this.  We will stay until we get the leaks fixed.”

How did Service providers and workers treat you?

Service provider treated me like a king.  He visited with me and fixed the leak and then waited to make sure it was fixed. He came back after it rained to double check and make sure it was fixed. When it rained again the repairman called back to make sure the leak was fixed.

How was the work you received?

Work was excellent!  Without them I don’t know what I would have done

What would you tell someone who was thinking of approaching Rebuilding Together about getting help?

I have already told people (other seniors) about the program.  They will help you I say.  They have helped so much I now donate.  The plumber wanted to charge me $80 hour plus parts. Rebuilding Together did it for free.

Residents like Ella and Mr. X are great examples of what it is that the Polk County Housing Trust Fund makes possible through the community’s Service Providers.  It’s been a great lesson in my life to see the impact of what organizations can make happen when they work together.

To learn more about Rebuilding together visit their Website