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National Rebuilding Day planned for April 30

Homes and community buildings, including Abilities United, to recieve repairs and improvements

Calvin Gibson and his wife bought their East Palo Alto home in 1968, raising children there and taking in servicemen boarders. It was a quiet bedroom community in those days, and Gibson was always happy to invite in a stranger for dinner. Now, the always-generous Gibson suffers from severe dementia and the home which welcomed many is crumbling.

One of his sons serves as his caretaker and his other two local sons make the repairs they can, but his home, with its damaged roof and ceilings, drafty windows and a dangerous stove, needs more care than the family is equipped to provide.

Thanks to the nonprofit organization Rebuilding Together Peninsula's "National Rebuilding Day," the Gibsons will be receiving the help they need April 30.

Gibson's home rehabilitation is one of 52 free repair projects to be undertaken by volunteers for needy homeowners on the Peninsula.

Twenty-one community facilities in the area will also be the target of Rebuilding Together repairs, which will range from roof and sheetrock replacement to weather-siding installation for clients who can't afford heating.

Corporate, individual, and community-group volunteers will take up 11 projects in East Palo Alto, four in Menlo Park, one in Mountain View and one at the Palo Alto nonprofit Abilities United, located on East Charleston and Middlefield roads.

About 40 Volunteers from the Palo Alto law firm Cooley LLP will construct a wheelchair-accessible path at Abilities United and renovate the back patio for use as an indoor/outdoor classroom space.

"It's a chance to give back to the community tangibly, outside of the office, together with your colleagues," said Michael Tenta, volunteer captain on the project.

Cooley LLP has contributed funds and volunteers to National Rebuilding Day for approximately a decade, and has participated in disability-access repair projects as well as previous Abilities United renovations.

Material expenses and logistical costs for all National Rebuilding Day repair projects will be covered by funds raised by corporate, foundation and community nonprofit sponsorships and a biennial auction called Dreams Happen.

Construction firms step in to help engineer some larger-scale repair projects, including those scheduled for Gibson's home and the Abilities United facility.

Rebuilding Together Peninsula's standard for repair projects is the promotion of "safety, warmth and independence," Kate Comfort Harr, development director, said.

The application process is competitive and all of this year's 230 applicants met income standards set by the U.S. Department on Housing and Urban Development.

"Most of these people are far below the poverty line," Harr said.

For more information, visit Rebuilding Together Peninsula.

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The 33rd Annual Palo Alto Weekly Short Story Contest is now accepting entries for Adult, Young Adult (15-17) and Teen (12-14) categories. Send us your short story (2,500 words or less) and entry form by March 29. First, Second and Third Place prizes awarded in each category.

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