VALPARAISO | After decades in the community, raising children and being good neighbors, Phoebe and Donald Brink, a World War II veteran, wouldn’t think of moving or calling another town home.
Unable to complete major home repairs on their own due to age, the couple turned to some 100 volunteers from Rebuilding Together Valparaiso on Saturday. The effort allowed them to continue living in their family home.
“They’re a really nice family but they’re older and can’t take care of their house anymore and they deserve it. They’ve contributed a lot to the community,” said volunteer Sam Mueller, a sophomore at Valparaiso High School and a parishioner at St. Paul Catholic Church, which sent volunteers to the home all week.
House captain Mike Finley said crews had removed 30 yards of dirt to reslope the backyard and eliminate flooding and added a drainage system that will send water to the front rain garden and landscaping.
“We are also taking off five layers of shingles and reroofing, painting all of the interior, converting a back storage room to a bathroom and mudroom. We’ve resodded the backyard and transplanted raspberry bushes, put in new windows, and have removed 30 years of wallpaper and replastered walls that were majorly damaged by water,” Finley said.
He said the Brinks weren’t at home because they were emotional over the outpouring of support.
More than 250 volunteers from area churches, nonprofit groups, schools, and independent community members participated in Rebuilding Together Valparaiso on Saturday at sites throughout the city. Those sites included Delores Hickman’s home, where co-captain Amy Carter directed her crew of 40 to 45 volunteers from Valparaiso University and the National Association of Women in Construction.
Hickman, a retired nurse from Porter Starke with multiple sclerosis, also was emotional about the community’s help, so she stayed inside her home while landscaping work was completed outside, said Carter.
“We’re improving the landscaping here,” Carter said over the din of a tiller, “for water flow and ease of maintenance.”
She said her organization had been involved with Rebuilding Together Valparaiso for more than a decade.
“It’s rewarding to give back to the community,” she said.