As funding and volunteer rolls grow for Columbus-based charity Rebuilding Together Central Ohio, the group is reaching out to the Northland area to let residents know what services are available.

As funding and volunteer rolls grow for Columbus-based charity Rebuilding Together Central Ohio, the group is reaching out to the Northland area to let residents know what services are available.

Representatives from the group spoke to the Northland Community Council about the services they can offer neighborhood residents.

Rebuilding Together, in operation since 1991, provides modifications and emergency improvements to keep homes warm, safe and dry, said executive director Julie Smith.

So far this year, the group has helped 55 people with home repairs, compared to 68 people for all of 2008, Smith said. The group expects to serve more than 80 homes this year.

"We're growing because the need is growing," Smith said.

Despite the increase in demand, Smith said Rebuilding Together is looking to grow its visibility and is able to serve more homes because of gradual increases in funds and volunteers over the last few years.

"We've been a well-kept secret in Columbus," Smith said.

During the winter months, the group has primarily responded to emergency repair calls, mostly from residents without heat or water.

And even with the high amount of calls already received this year, Smith said the group is able to accommodate those with non-emergency repairs within three weeks of a request for service.

Traffic for the agency will pick up as weather improves for the spring. Each April, the group provides a "Christmas in April" service. During the course of a weekend, total home repairs are made to homes accepted during an application process a year in advance.

"They'll include everything from a new doorbell to a new roof, depending on the need," Smith said.

Also this spring, the group will look to pick up a void left by the city's budget short-falls.

As part of the city's 2009 budget cuts, the mobile tool library, which provided tools for homeowners to use to make repairs, was cut.

Rebuilding Together plans to pick up that service with the help of volunteers.

"The only way we can keep it open is with volunteer labor," Smith said.

The group also will look to teach homeowners how to use the tools in the mobile tool library so that they can make repairs themselves.

Though reaching out to the Northland community was primarily to inform residents of the services provided by Rebuilding Together, Smith said the group also wants people to be aware of volunteer opportunities.

"We're always looking for new volunteers," she said. "We have a lot of fun. Our volunteers have a lot of fun."

For more information on Rebuilding Together, visit the group's Web site at www.rtcolumbus.org.

jnesbitt@thisweeknews.com