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Home renovation group looks to get involved in West Liberty
by Jacob Lane · January 02, 2014

If you've ever heard of a good old-fashioned barn raising, take the same concept and apply it to home renovation. Add a 21st century twist, and you've got the group Rebuilding Together Muscatine County.

Part of the larger, nationwide 30-year-old renovation group, Rebuilding Together (RT), the group finds low-income families and, over the course of one very busy day, improves their home.

"We can make you safe, we can make you warm, but most of all we can make you independent," said Executive Director of the Muscatine County branch Frank Iliff.

Iliff visited West Liberty during its city council meeting last Tuesday, Dec. 17. RT has been active in the city of Muscatine, now he wants to bring the success to other communities in the county.

"RT Muscatine County has done over 40 projects since 2007, and we would like to branch into West Liberty. I'm sure you have low-income people that could use the help."

Low-income families also include the disabled and elderly, at-risk families with children, veterans and current members of the military.

Giving seniors more accessibility to their own home is one of Iliff's major goals. Rather than sending the elderly to a nursing home, he wants to give them a chance to stay in the house they spent so much of their life in.

"They never have all their needs listed in the application," added Iliff. Quite often, during the inspection he finds more issues that need addressed than the homeowner is aware of.

When the day for the remodeling is set, RT works with contractors beforehand to address windows and other specific needs.Then, through the radio, TV, and word of mouth, RT finds 30, if not more, volunteers to work on the house.

"Volunteers come from all over, I've had some come to Muscatine from West Liberty," said Iliff, "The volunteers get so much out of it, because they feel they get to meet people; they've made friends for that day; we step into some peoples' lives and we help them out, it's a long lasting thing."

It's a day long construction bonanza, ranging from major wall repairs and painting to making the house more accessible to seniors.

"We have gardeners that come in and plant annual flowers so they bloom right away; we plant perennial shrubs so the homeowners remember us in years to come," Iliff said during the council meeting.

RT attempts to address as many of the applications as possible. Many are sent in over the course of the year. By coming to West Liberty, Iliff will expand opportunities for the group.

"RT would like to encompass the whole county; it fills a niche that no other group does," added Iliff. Look forward for opportunities to volunteer in West Liberty as a new year dawns over the town.

To be considered, an application can be found on RT Muscatine County's website After being filled out and sent to the proper address, RT will inspect the home to make a final decision.

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