Helping a Philly Neighbor Breathe Better, Feel Healthier and Be Safer at Home
I don’t think I just jumped, but I LEAPED at the opportunity to volunteer with Rebuilding Together Philadelphia for the Asthma Trigger Action Crew project. Philadelphia has been home to me for the past 20 years and working at Rebuilding Together’s national office meant that I would have the opportunity to get back to serving my community alongside our local affiliate, Rebuilding Together Philadelphia. As I made my way to the project site, I felt an instant wave of nostalgia because I lived only two blocks away during my junior year of college at Temple University. After parking behind the Rebuilding Together Philly work van, I got kind of nervous because the only other Rebuilding Together volunteer activity I had participated in was the Dunlap Block Build, also with Rebuilding Together Philadelphia, but I was a smiling face at the hospitality table, so I didn’t necessarily feel like I had the “boots-on-the-ground” experience. However, that all changed when I saw Jett’s (a program manager at Rebuilding Together Philadelphia) welcoming face!
Ms. Mujahid is a senior with a breathing condition, and when I walked into her home, it felt very warm and familiar, and that helped take my nervousness down another notch. She welcomed us volunteers with a beaming smile and expressed her appreciation for us just being there. Her cat, Smoke, was a nice host as well. It was a small group of us: Jett, myself, Shawn, KT and George. Our project for the day was to remove carpet and install vinyl floors and trim in the upstairs hallway and primary bedroom. I was pumped and ready to hand tools off to the others since I was the most novice and would surely be in the way…but nope–that’s not how it went at all! I was treated as a true crew member and was moving furniture, ripping up carpet (first time ever), pulling up heavy duty staples (not as easy as you’d think), and wait for it…laying down vinyl floors (mind blown)! Many of the repairs we made will remove allergens in Ms. Mujahid’s home that could make it harder to breathe.
I think my nervousness came from two things. First, I’m the opposite of DIY in my own home, so I came in with zero expertise. Second, I truly respect the work that our affiliates do on a regular basis, so I wanted to be sure I was helpful and not a hindrance. The Rebuilding Together Philadelphia team was so encouraging and patient with me and I truly appreciated them making me feel part of the team. We had a great time, shared a lot of laughs, and it was nice to speak with Ms. Mujahid and hear stories about her late husband and her other family. The absolute best part of the day was seeing her face after the transformation of her bedroom and hallway. I’m envious that our affiliates get to witness this pure joy on a frequent basis.
I have volunteered before with previous jobs, but it’s a satisfying feeling to know the organization I work for has a commitment to serving people, who are literally my neighbors, in the most generous way.
To learn more about Rebuilding Together Philadelphia’s Asthma Trigger Reduction Program visit https://www.rebuildingphilly.org/asthma-trigger-reduction.