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Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Aftermath: when help is not helpful

I was delighted when Rebuilding Together Mountain Communities selected my house this year. It needs work that I can't afford to have done, especially trimming tree branches away from the roof. Sadly, my joy soon turned to pain. And they never trimmed those tree branches.

They did tear out my rotten deck, but they left me without a porch for three weeks, and the porch that they built has to be torn out and replaced. They simply buried some wood beams in the dirt, so it is rotting after only two months. Even worse, they ransacked my storage and took things that I told them not to touch.

You see, I had some things sitting out in the driveway because I was in the middle of cleaning out my shed, as I do every spring. I take everything out, and then I clean the shed and bug bomb it before putting things back into the shed, I sort them into things to sell, donate, toss out or keep. I hadn't even finished emptying the shed because it kept raining, so I just had a few things sitting out under tarps, and I told the volunteers on Rebuilding Day to leave those things alone. Most of those things were in six plastic crates that had lids, were covered with tarps and were not in the way of the work that I had asked them to do for me. I also had a stack of lumber and some tools under the tarps. I had more crates in the back yard, and I told them to just leave those alone.

My back shed had been torn apart by burglars during the winter storms, so many things got rain and snow on them before I was able to rescue what I could and toss out what was ruined. I had already spent weeks sorting out the trash, and most of it was done. I tossed the little things into trash barrels for the trash truck to haul away once a week. I piled up the big things, which were mostly fallen tree branches, in one spot in my back yard. I had already arranged for someone to haul away the big trash, but the volunteers took it upon themselves to toss it into the dumpster that they had parked in front of my house. That was unnecessary, but it was okay.

They came on a rainy day, and most of them deserve high praise for working so hard and being so kind. However, a few bad actors took it upon themselves to ransack the things in my driveway and take away things that I told them I was keeping. They also left the door to my front shed open. The latch does not work, so I had a heavy box holding the door shut. They took away the heavy box, and the door swung open, during a rain storm. Many things inside that shed got wet, and many things are ruined.

They moved plastic crates that I had left in the back yard because they came from the ruined shed, and they stacked them up in my driveway on top of the crates that I had pulled out of my front shed. They covered everything with tarps, so I could not see that my stack of lumber was gone, along with my tools. I had bought that lumber, cut it to size and painted it, so their claim that it was rotten does not fly. It came from inside my shed, where it did not rot. They also tore apart the wooden walk that I had built in my back yard and took away more lumber, which I had bought, cut to size and painted. Now my garden borders, walkways and raised gardens can't be built because the lumber is gone.

As I go through the things in my driveway, and I find so many little things placed there with care, I feel bad for the many good volunteers from Rebuilding Together and St. Richards Episcopal Church. It's a crying shame that a few bad actors ruined it by taking my tools, hardware and lumber, along with a few antiques, collectibles and other things. I suspect that they threw them away, but I did not see them when I checked the dumpster before it was hauled away. They even took the bucket of Lego blocks that my son had as a child. And they took my garden sign, which a friend had made for me. The paint was faded, but I certainly do know how to brush on new paint.

I guess that I should have been more suspicious on Rebuilding Day, but I thought that I could trust the volunteers from St. Richards Episcopal Church. After all,they were here to pull weeds, so what could possibly go wrong? Within a few days, I realized that many of my things were missing. They said that they threw out some rotten wood, but I was missing lumber that I had cut to size and painted, as well as trellises, gopher cages and garden stakes. Besides, I hadn't seen any of those missing things in the dumpster when I checked it before it was hauled away. They admitted to taking some of my tools "by accident", but they never returned anything to me, and it has been two months.

Even worse, they have not even scheduled the main thing that Rebuilding Together promised to do for me. They don't even have the decency to tell me that they are not going to trim the tree branches that are rubbing against my roof, but they have removed the "Rebuilding Together" sign from my front fence, which tells me that they are not going to help me.. Before they stopped responding at all, they told me that they are upset by my complaint. I am upset by their theft of my things and their broken promises. They should at least return the tools that they admit to having taken "by accident".

I have many complaints, but here is one big one that demonstrates how shoddy their "help" has been. They tore out my deck and left me without a porch for three weeks, and then they buried some wood beams in the dirt and called that a porch. It is rotting after only two months because there is no air circulation to dry it out after rain falls on it. It is simply sitting half-buried in dirt and mud. I have to find someone to rip it out and build a proper porch. I dug down into the dirt at least six inches before I found the bottom of the porch.

Perhaps if some of my friends will contact them, they will at least return my push broom and my long-handled spade. I need them to work in my garden and to sweep my driveway and walkways. They told me that they were "too busy" to look for my tools.

Here are some photos of the aftermath:

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