Our Rebuilding Together Oakland project this year was to renovate the home of Linda August and her mother Agatha Cosby. Agatha has lived in this house for over 20 years, but recently, with her failing health, the house has fallen into disrepair. Agatha’s daughter Linda was tasked with the job of nursing her ailing mother as well as keeping their house in order. So Linda reached out to RTO to help. PCSC partnered with RTO to give Linda and Agatha a second chance at a better life together: one without clutter, peeling paint, and sagging ceilings. On the actual work days, we tackled a variety of tasks. On the first workday on April 23rd, we scrubbed down the whole house inside and out with the cleaning solution TSP, and then primed all the walls. We started work on a deck, reweighted windows, patched up sagging ceilings, and even did some electrical work On the second Work day on April 30th, we painted the exterior of the house a lovely grapefruit pink, painted the interior walls white, finished building a backyard deck, and landscaped the whole backyard, adding mulch, flowers, trees, and a hose for watering. We installed a new sink in the kitchen and fixed the plumbing in the downstairs bathroom. The bright, clean, and functional house that we left behind that day looked absolutely nothing like the house we had began working on. Linda was moved beyond words at our hard work and generosity. It was an extremely challenging job, but one of the most rewarding experiences of my life and the whole crew, down to the last volunteer, felt the impact we made on Linda and Agatha’s lives.
RTO this year was a crazy experience for me. It began with sending emails, exchanging simple information about a far away house and an unknown homeowner. But once we actually got to the house and met Linda the homeowner, things got personal. The more I got to know Linda, the more I found myself caring about the project. The emails were no longer quite as tedious and I looked forward to house visits. But what completely blew me away was that at our actual RTO workday, I could see the same thing happening to our crews volunteers. Our crew had signed up for a day of painting landscaping, and hammering. But once they arrived, they realized they were doing so much more than rebuilding a house- At our workday, we rebuilt Linda’s life. I am so grateful that the crew was able to have the same realization that I had. It was beautiful to watching the work they were doing become personal to them as they realized the actual impact of our project. RTO really reminds us of what PCSC is all about- and that’s what I love about the whole project.
Local film maker Andrew Hansen made an awesome video after the event, check it out!
-Maya Guzdar (RTO Project Team)