After two years of renting her Tulsa home, Connie Lawrence decided to purchase it in 2015.
At the time, she had a well-paying job, but then she found herself filing for disability. She was unable to keep up with the work needed around her home.
Fortunately, Lawrence was connected with a nonprofit called Revitalize T-Town, which replaced her roof free of charge. "It was a huge blessing, beyond my wildest expectations," she says.
Revitalize T-Town, formerly known as Rebuilding Together Tulsa, was founded in Tulsa in 1997 as an affiliate of the national Rebuilding Together organization.
Jennifer Barcus-Schafer, Revitalize T-Town’s CEO, has worked at the nonprofit for 15 years and volunteered with the organization for two years before that.
Last year the local board decided against renewing its contract with the national organization to instead rebrand as a new nonprofit to better serve the Tulsa community and its needs. Revitalize T-Town officially launched in August.
"Our mission has remained the same: to make homes safe and secure for low-income homeowners so people can remain in their homes," Barcus-Schafer says. "It’s not gorgeous remodels, but it’s things the home needs. It also helps keep neighborhoods up and running because if one house gets repaired, other homeowners want to follow suit."
Priority is given to seniors, people with disabilities and families with children, but anyone who meets the income guidelines can apply with proof of income and homeownership.
Once an application is approved, a team assesses the home and photographs every potential repair, including roof replacements, accessibility and safety features, and energy-efficient improvements.
In the early years of Rebuilding Together Tulsa, the organization repaired 20 to 30 homes a year. In 2018, 142 homes were repaired.
For Lawrence, her new roof is just the beginning of the repairs Revitalize T-Town will make to her home. "I’m beside myself with gratitude," she says. "This poured hope into my life and into my heart."