Building back Hudson Valley

Rebuilding Together volunteers at a National Rebuilding Day project in Poughkeepsie in April 2022.

Rebuilding Together

Building back Hudson Valley

POUGHKEEPSIE — Rebuilding Together Dutchess County (RTDC), a leading nonprofit in repairing homes, revitalizing communities and rebuilding lives with more than 40 years of experience, is rebranding as Rebuilding Together Hudson Valley (RTHV) with an expansion into Ulster County.

With the expansion, its reach now extends across the Hudson, continuing its mission to help those in rural communities often overlooked by traditional assistance programs.

At the helm of this organization is Darcy McCourt, who took the reins as executive director in April 2022. McCourt’s vision for Rebuilding Together reflects the organization’s core values, as she stated, “We repair homes, we revitalize communities, and we have a deep impact on people’s lives.”

This impact is not just measured in bricks and mortar but in the restoration of dignity, independence and safety for those in need, said McCourt.

“We’ve been around for 32 years here in Dutchess County,” she said. People know about us, and they’ve been begging, literally, since I joined and prior to see if we would expand into additional counties.”

Not only were homeowners with critical home safety needs asking for support, but the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) was identifying rural communities, in both Dutchess and Ulster counties, with needs that Rebuilding Together could help meet in its expansion.

HUD has identified that up to 75% of the population in these counties live in a rural community which they define in one of three ways: 1. A place having fewer than 2,500 inhabitants. 2. A county or parish with an urban population of 20,000 inhabitants or less or 3. Any place with a population not in excess of 20,000 inhabitants and not located in a Metropolitan Statistical Area.

By leveraging census data and collaborating with local officials and community partners, Rebuilding Together identified Ulster County as the next frontier for its mission. “For all of the housing support that agencies give,” said McCourt, “we’re only touching 5% of the population in those same rural communities.”

Reaching those in need isn’t just about physical presence, but about meaningful outreach, said McCourt. She emphasized the importance of meeting people where they are, whether it’s through community events, partnerships with local organizations or even bulletin board postings at grocery stores. The application process, though time-limited — applications are sent out in June and must be received by September — ensures that those who qualify can access services regardless of technological barriers.

“Those who live in rural communities may not have computers,” said McCourt. “They may not know about us. Perhaps they don’t go to their local library or food pantry. In the past three years, we’ve spent a significant amount of time with our outreach coordinator to touch all corners of our county.”

Central to Rebuilding Together’s success is also a robust volunteer engagement platform, with over 14,000 volunteers lending their time and skills over the years. In addition to providing services for low-income homeowners, RTHV is also providing jobs for those in the skilled trades.

“Since COVID, we have identified that there is greater need for skilled labor,” said McCourt. These relationships have also allowed for a greater number of in-kind donations from contractors. “They can charge us for the labor to put a roof on, but maybe they have extra roofing materials so they’re able to do the work without the cost,” McCourt explained.

Financially, Rebuilding Together relies on a mix of direct donations, grants and in-kind contributions. Its annual golf tournaments serve not only as fundraising events but as opportunities for community engagement and support. McCourt invites individuals and businesses alike to join the cause, whether through donations, volunteering or simply spreading the word.

A consistent grant it has received is through the Office for the Aging. Said director Todd Tancredi: “Rebuilding Together has long partnered with Dutchess County’s Office for the Aging as we fulfill our mission of keeping older adults in their homes safely for a long as possible. To accomplish that, our organizations have worked together to oversee vital repairs and modifications to houses for older adults in Dutchess, allowing them to continue to live independently. We wish Rebuilding Together similar success as they expand into Ulster County.”

The impact of Rebuilding Together’s work extends far beyond the homes it repairs. McCourt shared poignant stories of homeowners whose lives have been transformed by their services. From empowering seniors to remain in their homes to providing communities resources to care for their own, Rebuilding Together’s ripple effect is profound.

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