Rebuilding low-income homes, one family at at time

Nine members of DVC’s honor society traded their books for paint brushes Saturday to help renovate the Berkeley home of an elderly disabled woman as part of National Rebuilding Day. The Alpha Gamma Sigma students joined forces with 19 other volunteers to paint the exterior of Berdie Percoats’ home, where she has lived for the past 36 years. They also repaired and stained the railing on a wheelchair accessible ramp installed during a National Rebuilding Day two years ago. Percoats had to stop working three years ago after her left leg was amputated. “I learned that by helping one person you’re helping the whole community,” said Alpha Gamma Sigma Community Services Officer Elizabeth Elizabeth at the end of her eight-hour day. Volunteers from Thousand Oak Painting Company, Sesco Electrical Incorporated, and Anderson Carpet carpeted the front steps, installed linoleum in the hallways, fixed leaky faucets, made electrical updates to the house, put in an accessible kitchen shelving unit, and installed an awning over the back porch. Although some prep work was done in the week before, the majority of the work was completed in a single day. Rebuilding Together, a national non profit organization, has been helping people like Percoats across the country for the past 20 years. The group’s mission is to maintain affordable housing for low-income homeowners with the help of donations and volunteers. Rebuilding Together’s website places the number of low-income homeowners in the United States at 24 million and states that more and more families are having to choose “vital necessities over essential home repairs and modifications.” Percoats said her daughter contacted the group a few years ago and they have been fixing things around her house every year since. “Anyone can submit their names for consideration,” said Erin Rothfuss, who is on the board of Rebuilding Together. “Then we have a team come out and inspect the home to see if it’s the type of work we can do.” All materials used during the renovations are free to the homeowner and provided through donations or given at a reduced cost to the organization, house captain Elois Thorton, said. Percoats’ daughter picked the exterior paint color from a wide selection provided at big discount by Kelly Moore, “I would never want to pick the color for someone else’s house,” Thorton said. Percoats has been able to remain in the house because of Rebuilding Together’s help. Over the past three years, the group has replaced the roof, painted the interior, refurbished the bathroom and made her home wheelchair accessible. The volunteers seemed to get as much from the day as Percoats herself, “It is really important for club members and officers to know each other and