Volunteers work together to rebuild, revitalize Seattle homes

SEATTLE - "It's the look on the homeowners face," says Michelle Holst, president of Seattle's Young Professional Society.

Early Saturday morning volunteers across the country setout to make a difference. For Holst, that meant joining forces with Rebuilding Together Seattle to help cleanup, rebuild, and revitalize homes in need.

For the past 23 years, Rebuilding Together Seattle has helped low income homeowners who are in need by pairing volunteers in the community with homes that need extra work. Saturday marked RTS's Spring Rebuild Day, throwing in corporate sponsors, hundreds of volunteers and 26 needy homes in one day.

Spring Rebuild Day is RTS's national effort to promote affordable housing by revitalizing neighborhoods with critical repairs, modifications, and energy-efficient upgrades.

Holst's group was sent to Rainier Valley to help an elderly woman who's home had fallen into disrepair.

Joining Holst's group was another group of volunteers, lead by Richard Petrone and YPS's Veronika Smith-Archiapatti.

Petrone and Smith-Archiapatti have volunteered with RTS for the past 5 years. Organizing the group of friends and family, the duo have completed 4 projects together, and have no plans to slow down.

"I'd rather spend a day physically serving the community than just giving twenty dollars," Smith-Archiapatti says, "it's the best way I can help others."

Petrone went so far as to drum up extra donations, allowing more badly needed improvements for the home.

Together the volunteers, along with members of the home owner's family, managed to rebuild the rotting deck, replace windows, paint walls, and completely landscape the front lawn. Despite the weather, the group also managed to paint the outside of the home, and fence the backyard.

By end of day an entire dumpster had been filled, and the house was almost unrecognizable.

RTS's national effort completed over 3,000 projects with over 50,000 volunteers.

"Twenty to thirty people doing simple projects makes a huge difference," Holst said, "it's rewarding to see what a group of individuals can do in an afternoon."