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HELPING HANDS PRC's Rebuilding Together New Orleans provides critical home repairs for four veterans' families in need with the help of the Home Depot Foundation THIS MONTH, the Home Depot Foundation has partnered with Rebuilding Together New Orleans (RTNO) to sponsor repairs that will greatly improve the health, safety and home accessibility for elderly, veteran homeowners in the city’s Gentilly neighborhood. Close to 300 volunteers from across the country will descend on the neighborhood in mid April, just in time to celebrate the 30th anniversary of Rebuilding Together New Orleans and the city’s Tricentennial.   The Home Depot Foundation’s support of RTNO’s veteran homeowners will fund over four total renovations that would have otherwise languished on their wait list. Each of these individual homeowners, or one of their close family members, has served our country and will be honored for that service through the efforts of RTNO’s volunteers and sponsors.   "We're excited to be working with Rebuilding Together New Orleans to help veteran homeowners in the New Orleans community,” said Home Depot Foundation Field Manager Sean Vissar. The Home Depot is dedicated to giving back to those who have already given so much to our country, and with more than 35,000 veteran associates, taking care of service members is personal. “To date the Home Depot Foundation has given over $227 million since 2011 to veteran-related causes. When it comes to supporting the brave men and women of our armed forces, we're all in," Vissar said.   According to the U.S. Census Bureau, there were close to 18,000 veterans living in New Orleans between 2012 and 2016.   RTNO serves veterans, but others as well. Now in its 30th year, RTNO is a program of the Preservation Resource Center that focuses on improving the lives of residents in Orleans Parish using a combination of volunteer and professional labor. The program works predominately with low-income homeowners, particularly those who are elderly, disabled, veterans or single head of households with minor children. By leveraging corporate, private and public funding with volunteer labor, they are able to strengthen neighborhoods and allow those in need to regain the security of their homes.   Director of RTNO, William Stoudt, greatly appreciates the Home Depot Foundation partnership, stating, "We are working together to provide safe and healthy homes for veterans and dramatically reduce wait times. The Home Depot makes our work possible." RTNO is proud to work with the Home Depot Foundation to improve the lives and homes of the following veterans: Barbara Thompson , 77 5100 Metropolitan Dr., Gentilly Hometown: New Orleans Living in the house since: 1973 BARBARA THOMPSON, a New Orleans native, has lived in her Gentilly home for over 44 years. She spent three years in the U.S. Army, where her husband also served for 30 years. The couple raised three children in their Metropolitan Drive home before Mr. Thompson passed away from injuries sustained in Vietnam. Just days after her husband’s pass- ing, her daughter lost her battle with cancer at just 32 years old.   A chance viewing of a newspaper article discussing the efforts of Rebuilding Together New Orleans was the catalyst for change. Mrs. Thompson got in touch with staff members to seek help, and funding for repairing her home was al- located in part from a Veteran specific sponsor, something that Ms. Thompson values greatly. She stated that it “feels good to get recognized for my service, especially since my husband paid the ultimate price.” Not being able to complete the improvements on her own had added a great deal of stress to her life and was a daily source of worry.   Ms. Thompson has worked incredibly hard over the course of her life to be where she is now. A retired realtor, master’s degree holder — thanks to the GI Bill, mother and grandmother, she needed critical repairs to her home to continue aging safely in place. Because her children live outside of New Orleans, it has been very difficult for her to keep up with home repairs and maintenance on her own.   Her home needed a new fence to replace one that was falling and deteriorated, re- pairs to the driveway, which was crumbling away and making it difficult to enter the home safely and a new roof. Additionally, the home required weatherization repairs and new insulation to lower utility bills as her sewage and water fees continue to rise over the years. The interior of the home also needed new drywall, in places where destructive termites damaged the structure.   Completed repairs on Ms. Thompson’s home mean that she can rest easy at night knowing her home is safe and sound. “I appreciate everything they did,” she said, I “never had anyone do anything for me before.” With the work completed Ms. Thompson will be able to enjoy her retirement without the burden of diminished property stability, and she can reconnect with her friends and long-time neighbors in the comfort of her home. 24  PRESERVATION IN PRINT • APRIL 2018