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Tuesday, Apr 24, 2018
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Volunteers help veteran with repairs at Tampa house

TAMPA – As a single-parent homeowner usually working two jobs, Kathryn Branham had little time for repairs for the house she has owned for 14 years.

Over the years she had replaced windows, flooring and carpeting in the home near Lowry Park Zoo.

But the costs kept rising and her 20-year-old roof needed replacing, the heating and air condition system required repairs and termites had damaged several doors.

Branham, whose 19-year-old old daughter lives with her, applied to Rebuilding Together Tampa Bay’s Resident Repairs and Rehab Program more than a year ago.

Recently she was selected as a recipient in the program. The repairs began and a team volunteers arrived Nov. 7 to help her with clearing debris, painting the house and adding landscaping.

“I am so grateful for them coming together to help,” Branham, a seven-year Army veteran who now works in early child care and in retail. “This means everything to me. I think that every time I come home, I will think of this day.”

Brittany Ebner, volunteer coordinator for Rebuilding Together Tampa Bay, said the nonprofit has a year-long waiting list for assistance. Recipients of the program must be a homeowner and up-to-date on mortgage payments. They also must meet low-income requirements, with maximum household income limits set by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

For this project, sponsored by Fifth Third Bank, the recipient also had a be a veteran.

Curtis Stokes, director of community affairs for Fifth Third Bank, said the work at Branham’s home was part of a project with Rebuilding Together in six different markets. All projects were done the same day.

“Kathleen’s story appealed to us most,” said Stokes. “We think of this as a good way to honor veterans.”

Seven volunteers participated. They were from different offices of Fifth Third and from different divisions, including retail, private and commercial banking.

The renovations and labor are valued at about $15,000. The Fifth Third Bank volunteers did maintenance jobs. Local companies were contracted for the roof, plumbing repairs and air conditioning with most providing the services at a discount to Rebuilding Together.

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