The Remodelers Foundation is a volunteer organization in Portland, Ore., dedicated to enabling the elderly and those with disabilities to stay in their homes.
Foundation secretary Bill Markt, owner of Markt and Company Construction in West Linn, Ore., got involved with the foundation about four years ago. Beyond realizing the importance of the work, he was connected to the issue personally, as his college-age son was paralyzed in a car accident. After local organizations held fund-raisers to have his son's fraternity house remodeled so he could continue living there, Markt saw how important it was that, in a time of trauma, people are allowed to maintain as much of their normality as possible. He also saw that a big way people establish routine is through their homes.
'What we're trying to do is allow people who are aging or have been through an accident or disease-related life trauma to stay in the place where they're most comfortable, where they can be most effective and be happy," Markt says.
Ninety percent of the labor and materials for Remodelers Foundation projects is donated, with the most common applications being ramp installation, putting grab bars in and around bathrooms and making bathrooms accessible. With many of the volunteers coming from the Oregon Remodelers Association, Markt says the work has been a great way for remodelers to keep their employees involved when jobs are slack and to gain a marketing opportunity and a forum for giving back to the community. The foundation also allows the local remodeling community to funnel its energy and talent into a volunteer organization that is well-organized, structured and relatively easy to participate in, which Markt says has not been the case with some other volunteer opportunities.
The organization has done 12 jobs to date and aims to do four to eight jobs annually. Monetary donations are being used to strengthen the organization's infrastructure so it can involve more remodelers, get sufficient lead time on jobs and fulfill aspirations to take the work statewide.
"This industry is based on people making people happy, doing something that's measurable and very defined," says Markt. "This is even better because you're fulfilling someone's need. And this is how you make your community stronger because we're preventing people from actions that would put them on the tax rolls, like going into a nursing home or assisted living facility, and thus continue a cycle of sickness. It's an effective way to lend support and provide a service."
For more details, visit www.remodelersfoundation.com.