LIBERTY — The past is a good place to visit, but Rebuilding Together Kansas City Executive Director Clay McQuerry knows the present and the future need his nonprofit.

What Rebuilding Together does

During the Christmas of 2000, McQuerry and his family adopted a family through the Community Christmas Tree program. He saw a single mother and daughter living in a home that had a blanket over a metal storm door.

“There was no reason that someone in Liberty should be living in a home missing a real door,” he said. “She ended up one of our first clients.”

After working with young adults on a rebuilding day in Wichita Falls, Texas, the idea germinated. Each year, the local organization makes home repairs for those who could not otherwise afford to or make the repairs themselves.

“We started with just Liberty and I wasn’t sure if it would be supported, but churches and area businesses joined in,” McQuerry said. “It takes a village to make a change, which includes donors and hundreds of people.”

The first local Rebuilding Day came in 2002. Eight homes were worked on, McQuerry said, as well as uniting 125 volunteers to help senior citizens, low-income families, veterans and physically challenged residents in need.

Alan Napoli, Gladstone’s community development administrator, serves on the board of RTKC. The city joined efforts in 2011. Napoli said he has seen firsthand some of the needs for people.

“Seeing how people live and to personally hear their stories makes a huge impact,” he said. “When bathroom floors are rotting out, you have to help make a difference if you can.”

As the nonprofit grew, the collective reach has grown from Liberty to Clay County and now to Kansas City. The effort’s year-round program, Safe at Home, aims to keep neighbors in their homes through cost-saving, critical home repairs. Many of the modifications help reduce the risk of falling and lengthen one’s ability to stay in his or her own home.

Napoli said Safe at Home allows seniors to maintain freedom.

“More and more people want to stay at home and they want some independence,” he said.

“The people we have helped who want to walk out to get their mail or go outside to see the sun, it makes you feel good to know you helped with their independence.”

New programs

As Rebuilding Together continues to thrive, three new programs are underway. The first is a collaboration with Children’s Mercy Hospital called Healthy Homes to help modify homes for children who have experienced life- changing events.

The second is with Mid-American Regional Council’s home and safety modification program for seniors.

“We are one of five nonprofits to join this,” McQuerry said.

The third is Community Aging in Place — Advancing Better Living for Elders at Johns Hopkins University School of Nursing, North Kansas City Hospital and Clay County Senior Services.

“We are adding opportunities to serve more people,” he said. “It’s been lots of leaps of faith over 20 years, but I have a strong board that will leap with me.”

How to help

Volunteers are needed for Rebuilding Days as well as for other projects. Napoli said he would like to see younger people get involved.

“I’m thinking the Children’s Mercy program may bring out younger teams,” he said.

There are a several ways to donate to Rebuilding Together Kansas City. There is a “donate now” button on the front page of the group’s website, {a href=”http://rebuildingtogetherkc.org” target=”_blank”}rebuildingtogetherkc.org. Donations can be mailed to RTKC at 2050 Plumbers Way, #150, Liberty, MO 64068.

For another outlet, there is a Home for the Holidays home tour. This year Homes by Chris is hosting a Holiday Home Tour, with homes decorated in a Christmas woodland theme. Ticket sales to this event benefit RTKC. Tour dates are Friday to Sunday, Nov. 26 to 28 and Friday to Sunday, Dec. 3 to 5. Friday times are 2 to 8 p.m. and the weekend times are 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tickets can be purchased at {a href=”http://hbcbuilder.com” target=”_blank”}hbcbuilder.com.

Southeast Editor Kellie Houx can be reached at kellie.houx@mycouriertribune.com or 389-6630.

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