Volunteer Spotlight: Meet the Monday Crew

The Handyman Club: Monday Crew is instrumental in the growth and impact of Rebuild Upstate. Tasked big or small, Tom, Walt, Jay, Doug, Mike, and Bob are always willing to help. They’ve been serving homeowners through special projects and repairs suited for small, skilled teams for over four years between them.  

Rebuild Upstate is proud to work with volunteers like the Handyman Club. Get to know the crew members in the candid interview below. 

Meet the Monday Crew

Tom. This retired maintenance engineer enjoys woodworking and spending time with his grandkids (he has ten)! Tom is active in St. Anthony’s Church. 

Walt. Walt is a retired jewelry model maker and caster. He was one of the founding members of this volunteer team and is an active member of St. Anthony’s church. 

Jay. This New York resident is retired from GE and enjoys woodworking. One of his favorite things about volunteering is learning from others.

Doug. Doug is retired from the banking and financial services industry. Doug has extensive experience with Habitat for Humanity as well as with The Fuller Center for Housing (stateside and overseas) and brings a love for safe homes to every worksite.

Mike. The founding member of the Monday Crew! Mike has always been a “fix it person” and loves using his hands to make a difference. Mike is active at St. Anthony’s church. 

Bob. Bob enjoys retirement golfing, riding his motorcycle, and helping anyone he can any way he can. Bob is a member of St. Anthony’s church and enjoys doing missions around the world.

This crew has a heart for construction – and the skills to match. 

Tom. “I learned from my dad to fix, not replace. Growing up, my gym shoes were covered with epoxy. I used to be embarrassed, but then I realized that’s the way you learn.”

Mike. “I grew up in the same part of town as Tom in Cincinnati but we didn’t know each other! We were also always repairing things before throwing them away. When I was a kid at home, I got used to ‘Can you fix this?’”

Doug. “I’ve volunteered a long time. It’s fun and exciting. I like to say ‘Think globally, act locally.’ We’re not gonna solve the world’s housing crisis, but we can work one house at a time. That’s what keeps us going

What’s been your most challenging project on the Handyman Club? 

Doug. Crawlspaces! Some of them look like dungeons. I’m not the one built for crawlspaces. Bob. Walt was the one who went under the house! Walt. At least someone was out there ready to pull me out if they needed to!

Tom. Kitchens or bathrooms are challenging because you don’t know what you have to do until you pull out a cabinet or a floor…. then you have to throw out a lot of different ideas. Mike. I enjoy figuring out how to solve problems with materials on hand. We are innovative. Tom. Like fitting a 50 inch shower into a 48 inch opening! 

Doug. The worst part is arguing about who’s calling Nick when we don’t finish the job. “I’m not calling Nick, you call him!” We don’t run into that issue much now, so either the jobs are getting easier or we’re getting smarter….

Bob. The only thing I wish we had more of is 75 degree days with no humidity.

Tell us about your favorite part of volunteering. Why do you serve with Rebuild Upstate? 

Walt. I enjoy that we can fix others’ homes up so they can stay in their home. Otherwise, they may have to move out. This way we can make their homes livable for years to come. 

Bob. We get great support from Nick and Greg and Matt. [If we’re stuck on a project,] they will bring some tool from Lowe’s that I’ve never seen before and it’s the perfect tool! 

Jay. I’m amazed you’re able to get enough resources to do the job properly. It’s always so much easier to work with new and proper material as opposed to recycled or recovered, used material. 

Tom. I also look forward so much to Mondays with the group. When we had the period of time we couldn’t work, in limbo, I missed our time together. We even set up a zoom meeting to chat about what we’re up to when we’re not working at Rebuild!

The Handyman Club are firsthand witnesses to the need in our community. 

Mike. The first house Walt and I went to, the homeowner had a bucket in the bathtub she filled up to flush the toilet manually. It took 15 minutes for a new valve mechanism. Then we were to repair the leak under her sink in the kitchen. It took 10 minutes taking off electrical tape someone had put on the pipe! We just tightened it up and it changed her life tremendously in less than a half hour. 

Tom. We worked at one house, at the end of the day, we set that toilet in and got it operating. First time in a year and a half she [the homeowner] had indoor plumbing. She didn’t have to go to a relatives house to use the bathroom anymore. 

Jay. At one house, you plugged in your drill and it went twice as fast! Whhhrr! The house was running 240 volt around the house. Tom. That’s when Nick called in the electrical crew to get in there.

Mike.  [in another house] The kitchen. The sink was up on cinder blocks. The cabinetry had rotted away. Short water heater in the kitchen was at a big angle ready to fall into the ground. Walt. We had to have a new cabinet put in, but we had to do something with the floor first. Mike. How about the broiler? Any time she [the homeowner] put the stove on, the broiler turned on in the oven! Well, we talked to St. Anthony’s secretary and she told us a stove came in the last week. In a matter of days, we had her [the homeowner] a new stove. She was exclaiming how fun it was to make her dishes she couldn’t make before. 

The Monday Crew serves out of a heart for others – particularly, low-income homeowners. 

Walt. We are hoping to make it [the home] a place where they can continue to live. This is where they’ve raised a family, had so many friends coming over. It’s been their home their whole life! We can hopefully help them stay and enjoy their home, to be safe. There are some hazards that we can take care of.

Tom. I feel I get as much out of it from the homeowner as the homeowner gets from us! 

Doug. Millard Fuller used to say, ‘Take your faith off the hill and put it into good deeds.’ I enjoy keeping busy in retirement and seeing the expression on a homeowner’s face after we put a new ramp or door on, it’s a very emotional experience. 

Bob. I always ask God to lead me and guide me. Because if we don’t do it, who will? We just step up to the plate and try our best.

In one word, what does home mean to you?

Grateful. Security. At peace. Happiness. Safety to go back to.