Department of Family Services – Older Adults

CONTACT INFORMATION: Monday–Friday 8 a.m.–4:30 p.m.
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Fairfax, VA 22035
Trina Mayhan-Webb

Rebuilding Together Arlington/Fairfax/Falls Church Improves Lives Through Home Repair

Article by Gwen Jones, Department of Family Services

(Posted 2023 September)

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Two Rebuilding Together volunteers standing with Mr. and Mrs. C in their kitchen.
Mr. and Mrs. C in their kitchen with two of the Rebuilding Together-AFF volunteers who made safety modifications to their home. Photo courtesy Rebuilding Together-AFF.

On a hot and humid Friday morning in July, a volunteer team from the nonprofit organization Rebuilding Together Arlington/Fairfax/Falls Church was hard at work replacing the rotten boards surrounding a bay window on a home in Burke. This was just one of a series of repairs Rebuilding Together-AFF volunteers had made to the home of Mr. and Mrs. C. 

Rebuilding Together-AFF serves low-income homeowners by making repairs and modifications at no charge to the homeowner. The work is performed by skilled volunteers with priority given to older adults, people with disabilities, families with children, and veterans. In determining what projects to complete, Rebuilding Together-AFF’s goal is always to improve the health, safety and accessibility of the home.

Mrs. C learned about Rebuilding Together-AFF while visiting a Fairfax County facility. During her visit, she saw a flyer advertising their services and called to learn more. After her application for assistance was approved, a staff member from Rebuilding Together-AFF visited the home to determine what repairs and modifications would benefit the couple most.

Mrs. C had suffered a series of recent falls in her home, resulting in a broken hip, broken shoulder, and a spinal injury. Her injuries were severely impacting her mobility, so the first accessibility modification volunteers made was to install a chair lift in the home, making it safer and easier for Mrs. C to reach her second-floor bedroom and bathroom. “After my accidents, my lifestyle changed a lot. That is why I appreciate the help,” said Mrs. C.

The crew also installed grab bars in the bathrooms, installed smoke and carbon monoxide detectors throughout the home, and provided fire extinguishers to the homeowners. They also repaired the backyard fence and fixed an improperly draining front gutter, which had led to the wood rot around the bay window. The final modification the team plans to make is to install railings along both sides of the front steps. Navigating the steps is a huge challenge for Mrs. C, especially during inclement weather, so she is looking forward to the new railings. 

The Rebuilding Together-AFF volunteer team working on the home was led by Lander Allin, who began volunteering 14 months ago following his retirement. Although he joined the team in possession of substantial home improvement skills, Allin says volunteers without previous construction or building skills are always welcome, noting that not all projects require special skills. Rebuilding Together-AFF also offers training to existing volunteers who want to build their skillset. Projects are also scheduled on Saturdays to allow more working adults to volunteer. 

Another team member, Bill Marshall, has volunteered for several years and has served on Rebuilding Together-AFF’s board for five years. Marshall is amazed at what Rebuilding Together-AFF can accomplish, saying “In five or six hours, we can make a world of difference for folks.” He finds projects that improve home accessibility especially rewarding, recalling a recent project for a family with two brothers with muscular dystrophy who used wheelchairs. The family’s only bathroom wasn’t accessible, so the boys’ older brother was needed at home to help his siblings access the bathroom. The Rebuilding Together-AFF team modified the bathroom, allowing the boys to access the bathroom without assistance. Because of this, their older brother was able to leave home to attend college. 

To qualify for assistance from Rebuilding Together-AFF, homeowners must reside in Arlington or Fairfax County, the Cities of Fairfax or Falls Church, or the towns of Herndon and Vienna, and meet income eligibility requirements. For more information, visit, email, or call 703-528-1999.

Interested in volunteering? Visit to learn more. 

This article is part of the Golden Gazette monthly newsletter which covers a variety of topics and community news concerning older adults and caregivers in Fairfax County. Are you new to the Golden Gazette? Don’t miss out on future newsletters! Subscribe to get the electronic or free printed version mailed to you. Have a suggestion for a topic? Share it in an email or call 703-324-GOLD (4653).

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