Archie* loves the spring but his favorite time of the year is fall because he gets to enjoy the football games played by TC Williams' students in Alexandria, Virginia. Now widowed, he fondly remembers teaching some of the kids how to play the sport -- some of whom as adults now live in his neighborhood.
Archie first moved to Alexandria from the south in the early '60s, following years in the First Calvary in Korea. Moving in with his aunt on Queen Street, he searched for a government job, and in 1965 when the Pentagon was the "first to call," he accepted. In 1971, though racial tensions were high in Alexandria, he bought a two-story brick row home for his wife and two children in a community with an easy commute to work.
He remembers the flooding in his neighborhood during those early years and recalls "police and firemen coming in on boats to rescue people. Refrigerators were floating in my neighbors' kitchens." With water rising, he helped many of them lift their furniture onto higher ground. And Archie remembers the water marker a street away, reaching eight feet at its peak.
Archie is like many Rebuilding Together Alexandria clients who are proud homeowners; but due to life circumstances, they have a hard time maintaining their homes. Most of our clients make less than $26,000, making them part of the more than 46 million people across the country living near the poverty level.
Helping low-income homeowners make repairs to their homes is an important way to keep them healthy and living in their homes -- which is critical to the stability of many neighborhoods. That's why when Archie was having a difficult time making needed repairs, he reached out to Rebuilding Together Alexandria.
And over this past weekend, as our 1,000 volunteers fanned out across the city to help fix and maintain homes for more than 100 low-income, elderly, veteran and disabled homeowners as part of National Rebuilding Day, our team took extra pride in helping Archie.
They replaced two broken windows, installed a security fence in the backyard, re-leveled front steps for safety, provided general exterior repairs and yard cleanup, and fixed damaged drywall in his bedrooms. In return, the beloved coach, who's given so much of himself over the years, shared his stories and memories with his newest fans -- our volunteers.
For more information about Rebuilding Together Alexandria, visit www.RebuildingTogetherAlex.org.
*It is organizational policy to not disclose full names