December 07, 2011

Volunteer Shout Out

Shout Out to Aurora University's men soccer player Brett Wegleitner, who participated in Saturday's Green Home House Call event. Brett is a sophomore soccer player, and "took the lead in helping to organize the men's soccer team for the Green Homes event" says head coach Amir St. Clair. "Brett organized rides, and made sure everything was communicated throughout the whole team."

35 volunteers from the AU team joined Rebuilding Together Aurora to provide 13 households in Aurora with energy efficiency upgrades and training materials. "I was very impressed by how enthusiastic and engaged all of the students were," says Amy Altenbern, Executive Director.
We look forward to having them back on our team in the Spring! (groan-worthy pun intended) Score!

November 03, 2011

Logistic Captains

April may feel an awfully long way off, but here in the RTA office, we are already thinking hard about those soggy Spring Saturdays just 25 weeks away!

Do you know an exceptional person without a lick of "handyman skill" that may have enjoyed working with RTA in the past and/or might want get involved in a deeper way?

In response to feedback from our fabulous House Captains, we are creating a new volunteer position! This volunteer job, which we are calling the "Logistic Captain," will provide critical Event support to both homeowners, house captains, and RTA staff. In general, LCs will assist RTA staff keep track of work being done on site, act as homeowner liaison, and relieve the House Captains of paperwork duty (hooray!). It's a good role for someone who would enjoy engaging with volunteers and homeowners socially, is organized and can keep on top of light paperwork, but is a little less interested in performing skilled work.

LCs will have several pre-event site visits to conduct with the House Captain and/or on their own time, and 2 full Saturdays. However, otherwise, they simply need to stay in contact with their House Captains and the RTA staff between late Feb - early May.

If you or someone you know is interested, either contact the RTA office or request more information through this form:

See you this spring!

September 28, 2011

Lowes Sponsor Shout Out

The Lowe's Team still in good spirits at the end of the day

The Aurora and Oswego Lowe's stores teamed up to repaint the exterior of a (rather large) home last Saturday for a Vietnam veteran. The homeowner, cited for both unsightly paint and damage to his garage roof, is an active community member and spent much of the day sharing his story with volunteers. He was delighted by the quality of work the team provided and overwhelmed by the number of volunteers that came out to help.

The crew powered through the long day with exceptional spirit despite a lunchtime downpour of rain and hail. Instead of taking cover under scaffolding or lunching in warm cars, several volunteers simply moved underneath awnings and continued to paint, insisting that "the more we do now, the faster we'll be done!"

Denny Fulkrod, HR Manager at the Aurora Lowe's store and the project's House Captain reflected that "it was a great experience. We were all exhausted at the end of the day but with a real sense that we had given back to the community that helps keep our doors open everyday."

"I want to thank all the associates from the Aurora and Oswego stores that not only came out and helped paint, but I also want to thank those associates that stayed back at the stores to ensure our customers could be taken care of."

Lots of volunteers and one very fun machine

Installing new storm windows

Happy when the sun came out!

More photos can be seen here: 824 Benton album

September 15, 2011

Green Home House Calls a success!

In recognition of the 9/11 Day of Service and Remembrance and in partnership with the City of Aurora, RTA held the first ever Green Home House Calls event on Saturday, September 10 at Waubonsee Community College.

66 households (that's 165 residents!) were provided with the tools and training necessary to provide DIY energy efficiency upgrades and modifications to their own homes. Each homeowner was given a pack of materials worth over $150 for attending the training, including weather stripping, low-flow water fixtures, CFL lightbulbs, water heater insulation, and a programmable thermostat.

This incredible effort was made possible in part by the 48 incredible volunteers came out to assist the project, providing help to 19 households with elderly or disabled residents.

We received great feedback about the training, and incredible stories of volunteer collaboration, homeowner experience, and appreciation from both homeowners and volunteers alike for the class and pack.

We are excited to continue this event throughout the coming year, and plan to host several more events. If you'd like to participate as either a homeowner or volunteer, contact the RTA office to learn more.

Sponsor Shout Out

The Cat Team

A 19 person team from Caterpillar joined RTA on Wednesday, September 7 as part of the Unite Way Day of Service to prepare a East-side home for painting. The homeowner, Mr Newman, is a VietNam (US Navy) veteran who has been active in the community for many years as a public speaker and entertainer; this home, where he grew up and his mother passed, has been in his family for nearly 100 years. Mr Newman applied to RTA for assistance at the encouragement of his Alderman after receiving a city citation for unsightly exterior paint and a decaying garage. RTA has struck a unique partnership with several community organizations to repair these issues.

Work will continue on his home throughout the rest of the month as volunteer teams join forces to make the much needed repairs a reality.

Thank you to everyone from Caterpillar, one of our hardest working, most dedicated and enjoyable volunteer groups to help on a Special Project! We especially respect those brave souls who donned full tyvek lead-safe suits while working. You rock!

Brave soul

Clean Up

June 29, 2011

Get Golfing, Greening, and Giving!

Photo by Hyvan De Leon

Summer newsletter is out: Check it out here!

Highlights include:
++ 3rd annual Ballydoyle Golf Outing, benefiting RTA -- including info on how to sign up
++ Fundraising deal with Quality Care Chiropractic -- donate $30 and get a free exam

++ Doc.Crew installation at River's Edge Cafe
++ Upcoming volunteer opportunities

++ and the announcement of our newest, most exciting program open to ALL HOMEOWNERS residing in Aurora...!

May 26, 2011

Volunteer Shout Out

An Extra snazzy THANK YOU is due to all of the professional photographers that participated as mentors in this year's RTA Doc.Crew, generously donating their patience, time, and talent. Each of these fine individuals led a team of 3-5 high school students, documenting RTA's volunteers in action on the last day of our April Rebuilding Event and capturing the community each of their project sites sits in.

Jimi and Kate Allen of Jimi Allen Productions
Keir Briscoe
Rich Hayhurst of Studio One Photography and Video
Pawel Kowalczyk
Brandi Martin of West Aurora High School (instructor)
Jeffrey Ross of Jeffrey Ross Photography

The students commonly responded that they would like MORE of these events, giving their mentors a whopping average of 4.5 / 5 on the helpfulness scale--- 100% said they would participate again.
So, thank you, thank you for making this event a huge success!

2011 Doc.Crew Final 5

These 5 photos, all captured by West Aurora High School students on May 7, were selected as a series that beautifully represented the Rebuilding Together Aurora experience. These photos will be printed large-scale, courtesy of Aurora Fast Print, and used extensively in our upcoming outreach campaigns.
These students also received gift certificates to Pockets, and will have their shots submitted for publication in local and national media.

Project Rebuild
"Project Rebuild" by Mia Sanders

A Helping Hand
"A Helping Hand" by Juan Molina

1 Up
"1 Up" by Brandon Zierer

"RTA1" by Hyvan De Leon

"Concentration" by Mia Sanders

2011 Doc.Crew -competition runners up

On May 7, 19 West Aurora High School students partnered with 7 professional photographers to roam the city streets and capture RTA's April Rebuilding Event volunteer crews in action. Each crew spent the afternoon working through challenges pros face in the field and getting a taste of the richness of Aurora's inner neighborhoods. Students submitted their favorites [check them out here: Flickr Group Pool] and a jury selected 5 photos that best illustrated the Rebuilding Together Aurora experience.

The student works are all fantastic, and it was extremely difficult to select the "final 5"--- below are the very close runners up. Thank you to EVERYONE for participating. We here at RTA have been nothing but astounded by the sheer quantity of mind-blowingly good work!

rebuilding aurora
"Rebuilding Aurora" by Manuel Espejel

"RTA2" by Hyvan De Leon

"RTA3" by Hyvan De Leon

"Hand" by Kelsey Michelkamp-Stone

"Homie" by Brandon Zierer

Painting High
"Painting High" by Brandon Zierer

May 24, 2011

Volunteer Shout Out

We here at RTA (and especially those of us who coordinate volunteers) are incredibly grateful for the skilled master craftsmen that donate their time year after year, often bringing in material donations and building our professional network by bringing in their own skilled comrades to help on project sites... an invaluable resource to our organization and our efforts in the community.

Emily Stern, Executive Director of RTA, nominated both the Plumbers Union and instructor Don Stunkel this month for yet another season of exceptional giving. She writes:

The Plumbers & Pipefitters Union Local 501, under the direction of Don Stunkel, have been instrumental in helping us provide important repairs for low-income homeowners. For the last several years, they have partnered with us on our April Rebuilding Event and have provided free labor for at least 3 full replumbing jobs. Each day they helped us was at least a 10 hour day but they never complained and jumped from site to site, addressing important plumbing needs, with a smile on their face. On top of their ARE support, they have volunteered on various emergency projects throughout the year whenever asked. The value of their support as volunteers is, without a doubt, invaluable. We simply could not do the extensive repair jobs that we do without them. The whole group has hearts of gold and sincerely inspire people to serve on a higher level. I can't stress enough how wonderful these plumbers are. We are blessed to have them in our community.

The Union took on several major projects with this year's April Rebuilding Event, including: heavy repairs on Oak St, a full replacement at W New York St, and extensive repairs for a second floor bathroom on Benton St.

Volunteer Shout Out

RTA is nothing without its dedicated House Captains who organize and run every project. House Captaining is the most time consuming and responsibility laden volunteer position with our organization, and it is only through the generous donation of each House Captain's time, talent, and tenacity that every project is completed successfully.

An anonymous Grace United Methodist volunteer nominated Thatch Irwin for his dedication to RTA, writing:

Thatch has organized the Grace UMC group for many years. He has worked to coordinate the Grace Team, plan the work and make sure we have plenty of hands to make the work go smoothly. He has been at the project evey year from start to finish and has been the person we all look forward to working with. Thatch's hard work and attitude of giving has made the many houses that Grace Church has worked on a success. Thatch does not stop once the work day is done, he has stayed in touch with some of the home owners to help outside of the weekend work. His example of giving and the grace he shows to those in need set a fine example for all to live up to.

Thank you again and again for your patience and selfless service to the Hope for Tomorrow project.

Volunteer Shout Out

April Rebuilding Event is full of unexpected or dirty jobs, and we owe the volunteers that take on those unsavory positions a HUGE THANK YOU for sparing the rest of us fainter-at-heart from the woes of crawling in muck, slithering into cobwebby crawlspaces, or teetering on the tops of twenty foot extension ladders.

Sean Gaskill, Brian Lemmon, Joel Nagle, and Kevin Koran (all of IHC Construction) deserve a HUGE extra special THANK YOU for their efforts with Fox Valley Associated General Contractors at 25 N Loucks.
These fine fellows embraced the undesirable task of sealing and insulating the very dank crawlspace of this home, wading through several inches of standing water for the majority of the day on April 30 when few else were willing to do it. Their work was very much appreciated by RTA staff, YouthBuild participants, and FVAGC volunteers who were saved from the task, and the homeowner who's house is now considerably more warm and dry.

These guys were nominated by both Mike Cweinkala and Mike Hampson, house captains for the project.

May 10, 2011

2011 April Rebuilding Event highlights

A huge thanks to Fred Harms at Extraordinary Demos for building this video that highlights Rebuilding Together Aurora's passionate volunteers, extensive scopes, homeowners, and generous community partners!

Highlighted people and partners include:
Julie and Tia - Midwestern University Occupational Therapy Graduate program
Juan Abrego- House Captain
Denise Anderson - RTA board advisor
Marcie Rogers - Good Shepherd Lutheran Church volunteer
Henry and Phyllis Cowherd - homeowners
Nancy McCall - Aurora Noon Rotary
Bethteague Fairbank - homeowner
Affordable Roofing

April 25, 2011


... can be tiring but a whole lot of fun.
A HUGE thanks is due to the volunteers from Youth Build and College of DuPage architecture department for their two Saturdays of prep work. Despite the cold, wet, windy weather on Day 1, the 16 volunteers spent the morning singing and scraping. With sunshine and warm weather on Day 2, our volunteers blasted through a VERY large project in record time-- with much thanks to the early morning set up help we received from the homeowner's family!

Check out more of the work-in-action on the PrepWork Picasa Album.

College of DuPage volunteer gets to work despite the cold weather

YouthBuild saved the day by spending the entire morning on tall ladders.

Folding plastic like a Wet Burrito!

April 21, 2011

Volunteer Shout Out

A huge rowdy THANK YOU to the outstanding efforts by Jason Ball for the Calamos Earth Day project. Jason went above and beyond in helping prep for the landscaping project by collecting mulch in a late night thunderstorm, building and donating flower boxes, and pulling more than his weight on the project site.

His efforts were very much appreciated on site. As RTA project coordinator Erin Carlisle said, "Jason was like the Incredible Hulk when he lifted the railroad ties and threw them over the fence. He had help, but Jason basically carried those trees himself."

Thanks Jason!

Earth Day!

This morning, a handful of volunteers joined RTA to celebrate Earth Day by landscaping for one of our previous Year Round homeowners, a disabled senior who spent her life as a foster parent and active community volunteer.

A special thanks to Mae Calamos for spending the morning with our crew; she presented RTA with a generous donation on behalf of Hotel Arista in support of our Earth Day project and April Rebuilding Event.

Thank you to our hardworking volunteer crew: Mark Aguirre, Jason Ball, Kathy Beedle, Erin Carlise, Matt Horton, Patrick Rogers, and Emily Stern!

Check out the project photo album.

Mae Calamos visited the site to present her donation and meet RTA members Patrick Rogers and Emily Stern

Patrick Rogers, Jason Ball, and Erin Carlisle enjoying the satisfaction of a completed job

The finished garden

April 14, 2011


Just a reminder that the Volunteer Appreciation BBQ - including complimentary bbq dinner, cash bar, and awesome fundraising raffle will be May 7 from 5 - 8 PM at the Aurora Turner's Club.

Join us to celebrate a job well done and relax after a long, hard day of rebuilding!

April 13, 2011

Drum Roll Please....

The new newsletter is out!

Highlights include:
  • We are pleased to announce that the 2011 April Rebuilding Event will be provide assistance to 33 households!
  • "Like" Arista Hotels on FaceBook and RTA will receive $1,000 for an upcoming project if they get 1000 fans by Earth Day (April 22)!
  • There are THREE upcoming volunteer opportunities for individuals and families-- April 16, April 21, and May 7!
  • Purchase raffle tickets for the May 7 Volunteer Appreciation BBQ in advance from Emily Stern or any RTA board member! The cost is $3 / ticket or 4 tickets / $10. Prizes include, but are not limited to: 4 sponsor tent tickets to Ribfest 2011, 4 sponsor tent tickets to the Naperville Last Fling 2011, 4 White Sox tickets, a foursome of golf at Orchard Valley Golfcourse, and many more!

See what else we've been up to by viewing the newsletter here.
Want to start receiving the e-newsletter? Let us know -

April 07, 2011

Volunteer Shout Out

Boyscout Troop 53 did an outstanding job last Saturday, and RTA appreciates every ounce of effort given by the members and their leaders. The troop was one of the most focused, hardworking, and reliable groups of youth RTA has had the pleasure to work with.

While every member deserves a pat on the back, a very hearty extra Thank You is due to David Castillo, Boyscout Troop 53 member for his work at Union Street. When asked what made David really stand out during the project day, John Aguilar, troop leader, said that David was "really focused. He took charge of painting the deck; he didn't need direction and stayed motivated til the very end of the day."

A few of the members at work

April 06, 2011

Kiwanis One Day

Aurora Noon Kiwanis teamed up with Boy Scout Troop 53 and Quad County Urban League's Youth Build program to kick off our April Rebuilding Event and provide home repairs for 2 families in Ward 3. The first time partnership was an overwhelming success, with over 80 volunteers and few surprises-- a welcome rarity in home repair!

Both projects were Captained by Erin Carlisle, RTA Staff, and coordinated in conjunction with Mike Frankino (Kiwanis), Patrick Devine (Kiwanis), Emily Stern (RTA Executive Director), and Laura Mast (RTA Staff).

From Hinman

From South Union

Volunteer Shout Out

Doug Carlisle, Production Lead of Construction at ServPro of Lombard in Addison, was nominated by Mike Frankino of the Aurora Noon Kiwanis group for his outstanding energy, cool head in the face of unexpected challenges, and overall contribution to the project last Saturday. As Frankino wrote:

Clearly, Doug Carlisle was the guy for the day at Hinman Street. Although he was not a Kiwanian, I feel he made the most impact on the project. With his experience, he helped turn that scary-looking situation with the front stairs into a sensible project for he and a few helpers.

An additional nod must be given to two Kiwanians for their dedication to the projects: Hal Beebee and Dave Bohman.

"Through Hal's efforts for the day in working on the front porch, on top of the trailer full of tools he brought, he shined," writes Frankino.

"Dave spent a lot of time with me before the day of the project discussing what tools he could bring from his expansive collection. He then proceeded to load up his truck with tools, which he brought to the job site. Dave immediately identified the garage door as needing a lot of help. It was simply hanging there, off its track, upon our arrival that morning. This was an extra project not identified on our list of project to do. I almost took him off of it in order to be assured we would finish the list we had made, but changed my mind when I saw how passionate about making this right. This was a tremendous thing to add, and then complete, for the sake of these property owners."

It's April...

... And that means the Rebuilding Race is on!

We are pleased to announce that this month, Rebuilding Together Aurora will be teaming up with 50 community partners to provide home repairs for 33 families.

We kicked off the month with two projects in Ward 3. Aurora Noon Kiwanis hosted their annual "one day" in partnership with Quad County Urban League Youth Build program and Boyscout Troop 53. See our Volunteer Shout Outs to meet some of the incredible people that gave their time and hard work to support our mission last Saturday. We will be highlighting an incredible volunteer every week this month to celebrate service!

Read up on these projects here:

The Beacon News

And kind letters from those who support us, like:
State Representative Linda Chapa La Via and The Dunham Fund!

February 16, 2011

Sponsor Shout Out

This is a bit old, but we recently found photos from Affordable Roofing's 2009 April Rebuilding Event Project. Affordable does amazing work for us and is one of our most dependable sponsor and volunteer groups. They have been our partner for 15 years and have contributed over $50,000 to our organization in in-kind donations and labor.

Thanks guys!

February 10, 2011

Thanks Jaycees!

In true Jaycees fashion, the Naperville crew presented Rebuilding Together Aurora with a giant check for $5000 on Tuesday. The Naperville Jaycees are sponsoring another house this April and we are excited to welcome back such an energetic group of community members.

Also remember to check out Clay Sander & friends on Friday Feb 25 and Saturday Feb 26 at Comedy Night and meet some of their amazing members!