- Rebuilding Together El Paso is a non-profit organization that rehabilitates homes of people in need to address safety and health concerns.
- A $50,000 grant from Marathon Petroleum, along with teams of employee volunteers, will help enable the organization to reach more homeowners and better meet the demand for services.
- Since RTEP began, it has helped more than 2,000 homeowners and their families. This is the second consecutive year Marathon has supported the organization.
A man who lost a leg and had to use a wheelchair was having difficulty getting into his bathroom because of the wheelchair’s width. Volunteers from Rebuilding Together El Paso (RTEP) widened the doorway and installed wheelchair-accessible fixtures. Marathon Petroleum Corporation (MPC) and employees from its El Paso refinery are working to create similar stories across the city over the next year through a $50,000 grant to RTEP.
RTEP is an affiliate of Rebuilding Together, a national non-profit organization that coordinates with contractors and volunteers in cities across the country to repair and rehabilitate homes for people in need, including low-income residents, senior citizens, people with disabilities and victims of natural disasters. The projects can involve roof and plumbing repairs, pest control, adding insulation, painting, replacing windows, converting tubs to showers and installing grab bars.
“Each project could make a potentially life-changing difference for the homeowner who ... might otherwise have to go on living in unsafe or unhealthy conditions.”
This is the second year MPC has supported RTEP with a grant and project volunteers. This year’s funds are expected to facilitate projects at 15 homes through next August. The plan is for refinery employees to continue volunteering on projects about once a quarter, primarily in neighborhoods in the vicinity of the refinery. Maintenance Department Manager Brandon Bielamowicz organizes the volunteer teams and serves on RTEP’s board of directors.
“I’ve always been passionate about volunteer work, but especially hands-on work,” Bielamowicz said. “When I learned about opportunities in the community to serve on a board, I knew I didn’t just want to sit around a table. I wanted to be involved on the ground to make a difference and get my hands dirty.”
RTEP’s data indicate women and elderly homeowners represent most of its clients, amounting to about 70% of the total in 2020. Beyond rehabilitation projects, RTEP offers a program called SheBuilds, which provides free classes for women that teach home repair and maintenance skills. This program also helps link women-owned and women-led businesses and non-profit organizations to women in need in the community.
Since RTEP began in 1991, it has helped more than 2,000 homeowners and their families. During the COVID-19 pandemic, Bielamowicz noted overall financial contributions declined, meaning MPC’s recent financial support has come at a pivotal time.
“In a typical year, the demand for these services exceeds RTEP’s capacity to respond to all requests, and a funding reduction just widens the gap,” he said. “Each additional project we can complete could make a potentially life-changing difference for the homeowner who, in many cases, might otherwise have to go on living in unsafe or unhealthy conditions.”