04/11/2012 12:11 pm ET Updated Jun 11, 2012

A Month of Rebuilding, a Month of Service

"Working with Rebuilding Together is great, it has kept me alive."

Sol Goldstein is not a homeowner Rebuilding Together has assisted in its 25 years of service to homeowners-in-need. Sol is one of the original founders and directors of the national housing nonprofit's Long Island affiliate. Sol was inspired to launch an affiliate after a personal experience exposed him to the alarming housing disparity in Long Island. Thus began the journey of Sol, now 80 years old, who "un-retired" to establish and operate Rebuilding Together Long Island.

Sol is one of many affiliate leaders who has cultivated Rebuilding Together's presence in their community, and this year they will celebrate their 20th Anniversary.

Rebuilding Together Long Island's value in the community cannot be understated. Long Island's housing landscape is one of substantial need. It is reported by the Long Island Index that one-fifth of Long Island households spend more than 35 percent of their income on housing. This unequal distribution of income forces homeowners to make unthinkable sacrifices, such as forgoing running water and indoor plumbing, so they can afford food and other necessities for the week.

Long Island's lack of affordable housing is iterated throughout the country. Countless cities and towns are plagued with the struggle of families who are unable to find safe and healthy homes that are affordable. Rebuilding Together works throughout the year to assist low-income homeowners and stabilize the surrounding community.

Sol recounted a story of one particular rebuilding project, offering an accurate portrayal of the dire conditions many in Long Island, and across the country, accept as their reality. Several years ago, Rebuilding Together Long Island heard of two brothers whose home had literally collapsed around them. With nowhere else to go, the brothers moved into a storage shed, with no electricity, running water or heat. The city was on the brink of forcing them off their property entirely, rendering them homeless. Rebuilding Together Long Island, in collaboration with other local businesses and grassroots organizations, rebuilt the entire foundation and home for the elderly brothers. A family who had lived in Long Island their entire lives now had a safe and healthy home, in a community they loved.

This story is told by countless Rebuilding Together affiliates, in varying forms, on a daily basis. Although our work is year round, we observe the month of April, National Rebuilding Month, as a time to increase the volume of our work on homes to create an immediate impact in our communities.

Rebuilding Together has transitioned from an annual workday event to a month-long call to service during the entire month of April. During National Rebuilding Month, we recruit 70,000 volunteers to complete nearly 4,000 home and community projects across the country. Volunteers help homeowners-in-need by completing critical home modifications and repairs, so that our mission of a safe and healthy home for everyone is fulfilled.

National Rebuilding Month captures the story of our low-income homeowners and families' ongoing struggle to remain in homes that are safe, healthy and warm. Our 200 affiliates rally local community volunteers, leaders and activists and bring immediate impact to neighborhoods, improving the standard of housing across the country for American families. The dedication and service of our affiliates to their fellow neighbors is truly remarkable, and that is also celebrated during April.

Sol's involvement with Rebuilding Together, and the impact his affiliate has had on homeowners, can be observed throughout the entire Rebuilding Together Affiliate Network. More than 45 affiliates celebrate their 20th anniversary this year. Our affiliate leaders are a diverse set of service leaders: whether retired, in the height of their careers, or just starting out, their common goal is clear: to provide safe and healthy homes for families and homeowners in need. That remains the moral of the story.

Service to community, service to better housing, and service at any time in life is a critical piece of Rebuilding Together's foundation. Perhaps it is our love of service, embedded in the framework of the Affiliate Network, sponsors, partners and supporters, that set us apart from many other organizations.

As we celebrate National Rebuilding Month, we are reminded of the crucial role that service plays, in varying forms, throughout our organization and our mission to provide everyone a safe and healthy home. Rebuilding Together's work and mission instills a new sense of life into homes, homeowners, families, and even our very own volunteers and leaders; we keep people safe, healthy and as Sol would say, "alive."