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Rebuilding Together volunteers give North Chicago home a facelift

Vounteers from ZebrTechnologies work together brighten spruce up home during Rebuilding Together event help people Lake County's by remodeling painting

Vounteers from Zebra Technologies work together to brighten and spruce up the home during the Rebuilding Together event to help people in Lake County's by remodeling, painting and cleaning. | Joe Cyganowski-For Sun-Times Media

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For more information on the non-profit Rebuilding Together North Suburban Chicago, visit or call (847) 869-0900,

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Updated: June 28, 2013 2:31AM

Edith Mallory of North Chicago, a 77-year-old widow with hip and knee problems, sat serenely on a walker in a back bedroom as 17 strangers clamored about her home.

“I just love them, they’re all so kind,” Mallory said of the Rebuilding Together volunteers who arrived early last Saturday morning to clean and repair her house in the 1900 block of Wright Avenue.

Ever since Mallory’s husband George died in 2002, she has struggled to keep up with maintenance on her still-sturdy, two-bedroom cape cod and it had fallen into a hodgepodge of disrepair — leaky faucets, bad flooring, ancient paneling.

“It’s an older home and it’s got older-home problems,” said Mike Mendala of Bartlett, an employee, like the rest of the crew, of Zebra Technologies in Vernon Hills. “It’s tons of little things that build into a big snowball.”

As volunteers inside the home scoured, measured and hammered, volunteers outside cut back brush, tree branches and raked and cleaned Mallory’s sizeable yard. Michelle Heller of Arlington Heights threw out old furniture, and other stuff − 40 years of accumulation − out a window of the attic. Mallory, who hasn’t been able to climb the steep attic stairs for 14 years, gave her blessings and good riddance.

Charlie Eagleman of Chicago hauled junk out of the basement.

“This is fun,” Eagleman said as he hustled two-by-fours and old pipes up the stairs. “And you’re helping somebody — that’s the best part.”

Each year, the national Rebuilding Together Day summons thousands of community volunteers who provide repairs and modifications for low-income homeowners across the U.S., including the elderly, disabled and military veterans. More than 700 Rebuilding Together volunteers worked on 29 homes throughout north suburban Chicago on Saturday, an effort that also included homes in Zion, Waukegan, Round Lake Beach, Beach Park, and Highland Park.

Mallory is enjoying a new stove and telephone. Her windows are now gleaming. Her new faucets shut off tight. She is walking on new carpet and she’s listening to the gentle whir of new ceiling fans. She’s also eating better, after a volunteer couple dipped into their own wallet and filled her cabinets and refrigerator with fresh food.

Patti and Glenn Konnicki, veteran Rebuild volunteers, estimated the cost of the Mallory home rejuvenation at $2,000.

“Which is remarkable considering what we’re doing,” Patti Konnicki said. “The labor — 17 people at eight hours each — is itself an amazing gift.”

Mallory, a self-described “homebody” who has lived in her house since the mid-1970s, said she wants to stay “’til I die,” a wish that may be granted by Rebuild Together.

“I’m overwhelmed,” she said.

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