Interview: Emma Weltzer, Long-time [Re]Builder

March 30, 2022
by Lisa McFall, Manager, Marketing and Communications at Rebuilding Together National

Emma Weltzer is a long time [Re]Builder and advocate for safe and affordable housing. Currently, she is the director of national programs and partnerships at Rebuiding Together’s national office, but her journey with Rebuilding Together started back in 2012 as an AmeriCorps member serving her community locally. We sat down to ask her some questions about her time at Rebuilding Together and what this work is all about.

Let's start with a quick introduction--where do you live and what do you do at Rebuilding Together?

Hi! I’m Emma Weltzer and I’m the director of national programs and partnerships at the national office. I’m based in Henderson, Nevada (a suburb of Las Vegas), and have lived here for the past 3.5 years. I oversee our program implementation team, and we manage all national project-based grants that go out to the Rebuilding Together affiliate network to repair homes and community centers across the country.

How did you get started at Rebuilding Together and how long have you been here?

I first entered the Rebuilding Together world as a CapacityCorps member with Rebuilding Together Montgomery County January 2012 (shout to my fellow 2012 Jannies!). I served two terms with Montgomery County, in 2012 and 2013 (second shoutout to my fellow 2013 Jannies!), and helped bring back the affiliate’s Volunteer Handyperson Program, which allowed us to serve many more neighbors in need. I was hired as the affiliate’s program manager at the end of my service, and managed both projects and compliance for all our grant-funded programs. When the opportunity to work at the national office came up in mid-2015, I jumped at the chance, and was hired as the affiliate services manager in September 2015. I’ve had a few different roles at the national office since 2015, and I’m lucky that I’ve had the chance to work with so many different affiliates and communities over the past several years. It’s hard to believe that it’s been 10 years!

Why do you think Rebuilding Together’s work is important? Why are you a [Re]Builder?

Access to safe and affordable housing is a human right. Protecting some of our most vulnerable community members, keeping them in the space that they love, and allowing them to pass on their cherished homes, is such an important aspect of the work that we all do. Not only does it impact the lives of individuals and families but it also maintains the unique fabric and culture of each community.

What keeps you motivated?

The people. The neighbors and communities that we all play a part in serving, and all the people I’ve had the privilege of working with over the past 10 years. The passion and dedication to rebuilding lives and communities makes all the difficult moments 100% worth it.

How do you think the work of Rebuilding Together plays into creating healthy, equitable communities?

As much as we all want to live in a safe and healthy home, we also want to live in a thriving and equitable community. Rebuilding Together’s partnerships – community, corporate, government, private… they’re all building blocks to helping communities flourish. Our work does, and should, celebrate and uplift the diversity and uniqueness of each community and neighbor.

Is there any project or event that you’re most proud of from your time at Rebuilding Together? Tell us why.

I am proud of every project and event that I’ve planned, executed or attended at Rebuilding Together. During my time in Montgomery County, I had the opportunity to lead a project with our former national partner, Choice Hotels. We were working with our community partner Montgomery Housing Partnership, planning repairs and renovations to one of their homes as well as building a play space for the children who lived there. The project had lots of challenges, but ultimately, with lots of late nights, support from other staff, and a helping hand from the national office and local CapacityCorps alums, the project turned out to be a huge success and a great opportunity for learning.

I feel incredibly lucky to have the opportunity to see firsthand so much amazing work happening in communities across the country, and I’m so appreciative of all the people I’ve met along the way. Each and every person and community has helped shape me into the person that I am today, and for that, I will always be eternally grateful.

Is there anything else you want to add anything else about yourself, your career or Rebuilding Together?

I’m often asked if I miss working at an affiliate because I’m removed from the actual “boots on the ground” work that the affiliate network does every day. I truly believe that, even though I don’t get to do the day-to-day work with our neighbors or communities in need, that providing the affiliate network with top notch support (in whatever way that may look like to each affiliate) allows me to have a small part of the impact that Rebuilding Together as a whole has across the country.