Building Community Connection with Bed Bath & Beyond

June 13, 2022
by Gretchen Viggiano, Executive Director at Rebuilding Together North Jersey

Last week, Rebuilding Together North Jersey and Bed Bath & Beyond volunteers provided essential home repairs for Upper Ringwood neighbors to improve safety and health, increase accessibility and help them remain where they feel at home.

Historically, the Upper Ringwood community has faced various forms of oppression. Largely, by companies that have come in, made decisions and used their land without any input, feedback or decision-making from local residents.

As Rebuilding Together establishes Community Revitalization Partnerships, it is critical that our presence is desired in the communities we serve, our work is aligned with the community development goals already established by the neighborhood and we work in a coordinated approach to support the neighborhood's goals.

As part of our work with the Upper Ringwood community, we met with neighbors, community leaders, and local officials. By taking the time to learn about the neighborhood's history, attending community events and building meaningful relationships with residents, we were able to determine how we could best serve the community.

The first neighbor we connected with was Kelly, a local schoolteacher who is cheerful, outgoing and previously volunteered with Rebuilding Together North Jersey. Kelly serves as the sole caregiver for her husband, mother and two adult children and wants to do what she can to help support and build connections within the community. After seeing firsthand how providing essential home repairs can improve health, safety and increase accessibility, she connected us with other neighbors she felt could benefit from our services.

Another neighbor we were fortunate to meet was Lucy. Lucy is a member of one of the neighborhood’s six original families. She lives in her family’s 160-year-old home that has been passed down from generation to generation. She is a retired school bus driver and loves her neighborhood, feels deeply connected to her family’s history and wants to remain in her family home.

Together, we installed a new refrigerator to help Kelly store insulin to meet her husband’s health needs, fitted new exterior and storm doors to improve security and repaired the gutters and deck to make the home safer. We restored Lucy’s leaking roof and replaced the water heater, stove and refrigerator. Today Lucy’s home is safe, dry, well-ventilated and she has functioning appliances.

Sixty percent of neighbors reported an increased feeling of inclusion within the neighborhood after repairs. By building connections with the neighbors we serve, we can have a greater impact as we work towards safer homes and communities for everyone.

This year, Bed Bath & Beyond is supporting more than 25 Rebuilding Together projects in communities nationwide, helping neighbors across the country receive quality essential home repairs at no cost to them. These projects are part of Bed Bath & Beyond, Inc. Home Happier campaign, which focuses on their belief that a home is a feeling that is created by every moment, in every room. Bed Bath & Beyond is also donating critical products like bedding, kitchen utensils and cookware, cleaning supplies and more.