Walter Womack had a ready smile for the guests in his Falls Church home on Tuesday, and kind words, whispered because of the tracheostomy tube that was helping him breathe. He didn’t even mind the sound of drilling and hammering that could be heard from his bed. He was enjoying his first day at home after spending nearly a year in the hospital following an injury that left the 50-year-old veteran a quadriplegic. And he was happy to have dozens of local volunteers giving their time and energy to make his home accessible for the power wheelchair he’d now have to use.
Rebuilding Together Arlington/Fairfax/Falls Church has been coordinating the work of more than 100 local volunteers, who for the past month have been donating their time and energy to refurbishing the Womack home. The main goal of the project was to build a power wheelchair ramp leading up to the front door of the house. Doorways were also widened to allow him ease of access. Womack was injured while working on his home, and the Rebuilding Together project not only addressed accessibility, but also took care of several household tasks like painting for the Womack family.
Rebuilding Together Arlington/Fairfax/Falls Church, the local branch of the national non-profit, helps people in need – in particular older and disabled adults – by coordinating volunteer efforts to renovate their homes.
Volunteers from Navy Federal Credit Union, local Sears department stores, the Burdette Smith and Bish accounting firm of Fairfax, and Falls Church’s DPR Construction, and other local good samaritans have put in hundreds of man hours on the Womack home.
“This is a great group of people,” said Rebuilding Together Arlington/Fairfax/Falls Church program manager Marcy Bartlett. “It’s amazing how much kindness there is in the world.”
The Womack family found Rebuilding Together by reaching out to Congressman Jim Moran’s office to find help for Walter, a veteran who had served his country for more than 20 years in the Air Force. Mary Giordano, a constituent relations liaison for Moran, says it was good luck and good timing that she happened to hear about the family’s case. Before joining Moran’s office, she had worked with the Alexandria branch of Rebuilding Together and was able to connect the Womack family with assistance.
When Rebuilding Together Arlington/Fairfax/Falls Church Executive Director Patti Klein heard of the Womack family’s need, she knew she had to find a way to help them. And with a plea to the national Rebuilding Together and the help of local sponsors, she was able to find the money and manpower to give the Womacks the home they needed.
The Horan family knows just what kind of impact can be made when a community pulls together for a common good. Pat Horan suffered a gunshot wound to the head while serving with the Army in Iraq in 2007. The injury left him with mobility issues, which Rebuilding Together volunteers addressed by installing an elevator in his McLean home last summer.
“I can never say thank you enough,” Horan said in a visit to the Womack house on construction day. Walter Womack, the latest recipient of this volunteer kindness, is stunned by the gesture.
“It’s incredible,” Womack said. “I can’t believe it.”