“We have a responsibility to help these people,” Cliff Bellar said. He was speaking about the elderly of Medina County who are too sick or frail to keep their homes safe and comfortable.
Bellar is backing up his words with action by founding a Medina County chapter of Rebuilding Together, a national organization that helps homeowners in need.
Founded 25 years ago in Texas, Rebuilding Together boasts 200 chapters — the nearest are in Summit and Stark counties — and more than 3 million volunteers who have worked on more than 100,000 homes across the nation.
With more than 38 years of experience as a commercial real estate broker, Bellar, 69, of Medina, is especially qualified to bring Rebuilding Together to Medina County.
“As a national organization, they’re incredibly organized,” Bellar said. “We’ve been able to set up this whole project in a matter of months where normally it can take the better part of a year.”
This Saturday, the organization will begin work on its first project — Annabelle Thompson’s home on Fixler Road in Sharon Township.
Bellar said he expects more than two dozen volunteers to pitch in.
“We’ll be adding grab bars. There’s a tub that doesn’t drain right, a sink that’s been leaking,” he said. “There’s all kinds of little things that need work.”
Bellar said those “little things” aren’t so little when you’re at an age where just getting around is becoming increasingly difficult.
“Just having someone do something like screw in a handrail is huge for some people,” he said.
Thompson, 78, is grateful for the offer of assistance.
“It sounds like a wonderful project that they’re doing,” she said. “I think we need something like that here.”
The Fixler address has been her home since 1965. She and her husband, a carpenter, bought the two-story frame house and quickly built an addition. The couple has two grown children, a boy and a girl, who live in Colorado and Illinois.
Following her husband’s death in 1999, she’s had help from her family around the house, but the work has gotten to be too much.
Thompson said she sought help from the nonprofit Community Action Medina/Wayne agency.
“They said I qualified, but there was no grant money available,” she said.
Community Action linked Thompson with Bellar, who was looking for an initial project for Rebuilding Together.
Thompson’s house is just the first step in a larger plan.
Bellar wants to see Rebuilding Together working on another house by late summer.
“I’d like to plan for five houses next year but it really depends on fundraising,” he said.
For more information, call Bellar at (330) 472-1997.
Contact reporter Seth Breedlove at firstname.lastname@example.org.