On Feb. 26, over 200 members of the Oakland Mills Middle School staff and student body aided in the improvement of the home of a Howard County Resident known as Mss. Wilson. Wilson, who was in need of numerous home repairs, had come to Rebuilding Together Howard County, a volunteer-based organization dedicated repairing homes.
The students quickly discovered that Wilson was to soon undergo chemotherapy while repairing her home. They proceeded to make numerous “Get Well Soon” cards for her, providing her with comfort as well as the necessary improvements for her house.
Some of the improvements included repairment of Wilson’s roof, front sidewalk, and back deck. In addition, the volunteers installed smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, as well as GFCI outlets throughout the house. There were also numerous cosmetic improvements to the house, including paint touch ups and replacement of flooring with laminate.
Howard County hopes to expand their community service opportunities for their students and general residents. Among these opportunities are ways to aid in the physical growth of the different cities and schools.
Oakland Mills Middle School in particular has taken part in the Rebuilding Together Howard County organization for several years. With the organization, Howard County residents and businesses are able to collaborate to mobilize volunteers and provide free home repairs to low-income families that also reside in the county.
Mt. Hebron senior Julia Labuda spoke on the availability of service opportunities based on location.
“I don’t really see much change around [the Mt. Hebron district] because we do live in a really well off area. I think there would be more change in less well off areas so it might be harder to get people to do more community service things.”
Through Rebuilding Together Howard County, Oakland Mills Middle School has been able to complete at least 12 home renovation projects as well as urgent repairs. This past year, more than one hundred current middle schoolers and more than fifty staff and family members aided in the Rebuilding Together projects, essentially led by Science Instructional Team Leader, George Clifford.
The organization focuses on their motto, in that they are to “repair, revitalize and rebuild” communities to greater strengths and ensure everyone has a safe place to live in. The repairing portion means that the restore homes of families, seniors, people with disabilities and victims of disasters are prioritized. “Revitalizing” has to do with fortifying the physical and emotional bonds within communities in the county. Lastly, “rebuilding” focuses on reconstructing people’s lives through raising awareness of the housing issues regarding “1.65 million of our neighbors in need across the country.”
Relating to the repairing process, it usually lasts two to three days and include demolition and painting. Students can also become involved and support the owners of the homes personally, helping them with whatever struggles they may face outside of their housing issues. For example, students can construct a side project and try to give homeowners a token of hope relating to different struggles they face such as mental, physical, or terminal illnesses, and more. The main goal is to find ways to help members of the community in as many ways possible.
Oakland Mills Middle School’s upcoming house project in April is possible because of the support of community partners and school fundraising. Ways that they earned money is through events at school such as a race and student art auction this year, donating all proceeds to the Rebuilding Together spring project.
Other residents from all schools and homes in Howard County can join the efforts too. One of the ways to get involved is by becoming a “rebuilder.”
Saturday, April 27th is this year’s Rebuilding Day, scheduled to have approximately twenty five projects for homeowners in need that live in Howard County. Representatives called House Captains visit project sites, rally volunteers and order materials in preparation for Rebuilding Day. All residents are encouraged to participate and get involved, whether it is volunteering, becoming a sponsor team, or helping with fundraising. The amount to be raised this year is 2500 dollars, and this money would be used to help with all of the costs that come with the efforts that come with rebuilding a facility.
Oakland Mills Middle School holds precedence over other schools in the county that may want to participate in programs such as these, leading them to several opportunities to engage learners in their surrounding county.