Since 1989, Rebuilding Together Baltimore (RTB), has mobilized more than 20,000 volunteers to repair hundreds of homes in the city and county, serving low-income seniors, families and individuals with disabilities who live in the area. The nonprofit’s goal remains to make homes warmer, safer and drier.
Now, RTB has been selected by the national Rebuilding Together organization as the only 2017 site for its “Building a Healthy Neighborhood Initiative,” which included a free community resource fair held Sept. 9, 2017 and Project Days where 500 volunteers were tasked with renovating more than 10 homes owned by seniors, families with children and those with disabilities.
All of this took place in Govans’ historic Wilson Park/Northern neighborhood and under the guidance of Candace Handy, RTB’s program manager and lifelong Baltimorean.
“Rebuilding Together Baltimore has been investing in the Greater Govans region of Northeast Baltimore for five years, and this last year has been a very exciting year for us,” Handy said. “We launched a Handyman program in Govans, and were chosen for Building a Healthy Neighborhood, or BaHN.”
To date, the organization has assisted over 75 homeowners in Govans with critical home repairs. Being chosen for BaHN, is an amazing opportunity to build on and expand the investment RTB has made in Govans over several years, according to Handy, who started out as a part-time administrative assistant while attending Towson University.
“At 10 years old, I was introduced to a mentoring program called Sisters Circle. I was matched up with my mentor, Hunter Haines, and afforded a full scholarship to attend Roland Park Country School from sixth to twelfth grade,” Handy recalled. “Receiving an amazing education at RPCS while still living in the Barclay neighborhood in inner city Baltimore, opened my eyes to the educational disparities in my city. At 16 years old, I decided to do the work [to] change my city for the better in any way I could.”
RTB proved to be the change needed for many of its recipients.
“We are a Safe & Healthy Housing and Community Revitalization organization dedicated to improving the quality of life for residents in the areas we serve,” Handy said.
“We provide home repairs for low income homeowners at no cost to the homeowner and we focus on repairs that make the home safer and healthier, so that homeowners can retain their homes as an asset to be passed down to their families.”
Although she didn’t originally seek to make a career out of her work at RTB, the ambitious program manager says she still has many goals.
“I started part-time at RTB [five years ago] when I was in college, and didn’t really plan to stay. Over the years, I became more passionate about our mission— helping communities in Baltimore City,” Handy said. “I believe safer and healthier homes can affect change in so many other areas. So, when I graduated from Towson University, I decided to submit a proposal for a promotion to Program Manager.”
“My goal here is to help the organization grow and continue to serve the people of Baltimore. I am constantly thinking of ways we can improve and adjust the work we do to the needs of the communities we serve,” she said, adding, “I want to build relationships and connect with people. I want to make my city a better place.”
For anyone who may not know much about RTB, Handy says her goal is to make sure everyone knows the organization is fully invested in serving the communities.
“With other partners from the community, we are working to improve the lives of the residents of Baltimore starting at home. Since 1989, we have worked in over 1,400 homes in 35 neighborhoods,” she said. “We seek to preserve home ownership on a large community scale. Our beautification work in community spaces leaves a visual impact and helps engage the neighborhood. We hope to continue to expand our services to homeowners in need throughout the Baltimore area, and we encourage you to get involved to help us a provide a safe and healthy home for everyone in Baltimore.”
Anyone interested in learning more about the organization or to make a donation to the nonprofit, visit: www.RTBaltimore.org.