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Students help by rebuilding together
April 26, 2012, 05:00 AM By Heather Murtagh Daily Journal Staff

Mike McDonell Twenty-five dads and daughters from Notre Dame High School Belmont came together as part of Rebuilding Together Peninsula to help renovate and clean up the interior and exterior of Richard Danczak's house.

Mike McDonell In the yard, students removed two sheds, their contents, cut back ivy, painted the house exterior and replaced the rear yard gate, platform and front door handrails.

As things often start, Simon Danczak’s issue with his home began small with a hole.

Richard Danczak, Simon’s son, explained his 91-year-old old father can’t get around as well but has always taken pride in his home. A hole in the ceiling was letting water into the living room so Simon asked his son for help. That was a problem Richard Danczak wasn’t able to fix on his own. That’s when a letter came in the mail from Rebuilding Together Peninsula about opportunities for revitalization.

Revamping the South City resident’s home is a project the nonprofit was able to take on. This past weekend, 25 dads and daughters from Notre Dame High School Belmont came by the help. It was the first of a two-Saturday project that culminates this weekend for National Rebuilding Day. The event brings together more than 3,500 volunteers who will be rehabilitating and revitalizing neighborhoods by providing free repairs to low-income neighbors, seniors, people with disabilities and families from Daly City to Sunnyvale.

Richard Danczak was amazed at being one of the 66 projects chosen.

"It was phenomenal to see all the dads and the daughters here,” he said.

Danczak was particularly happy for the help since it is helping his dad.

Built in 1947, the Danczaks moved into the home in 1957. The home hasn’t been updated in some 30 years. The project was a large one for those involved. The interior of the house requires some immediate attention in the living room, bathroom and kitchen. The exterior required the removal of two sheds, their contents, cutting back overgrown ivy, painting house exterior and replacing the rear yard gate, platform and front door handrails.

The Dad’s Club at Notre Dame creates opportunities for dads and daughters to work together completing community service. Most of the projects it has worked on have been on or around the campus, said Mike McDonell, one of the fathers.

When they heard another school had partnered with Rebuilding Together, the group decided to learn more. Danczak’s house is their first project.

McDonell noted the group saw the large amount of work to be done on Saturday and was unsure if it could be completed. Six hours later, a number of indoor repairs had been completed and the outside had been cleared of two debris boxes holding 30 cubic yards each. Along the way, dads had a chance to show their daughters how to use tools while working alongside Danczak.

There’s still much work to be done this weekend like landscaping and painting — the finishing touches on the work.  

"It really builds a sense of community when you have a company [or group of volunteers] that works in an area that steps up to be leaders,” said Rebuilding Together Executive Director Seana O’Shaughnessy.

Offering that help allows families to get projects they wanted completed done, O’Shaughnessy added.

Lately, Rebuilding Together has seen a trend in multi-generational households. In Daly City, for example, there are nine households that will be repaired Saturday which house 41 residents. Saturday’s projects also include 21 community facility sites. One good thing from the recession, O’Shaughnessy has also seen a trend in more people wanting to volunteer for projects.

Making these types of projects possible requires financial donations that are leveraged by Rebuilding Together. For the Danczak project, South San Francisco donated $3,000 though the Community Development Block Grant.

Norma Fragoso, TITLE for South San Francisco, explained the city previously had programs in place to aid homeowners for redevelopment projects. Budget cuts and the dissolution of the Redevelopment Agency made that tougher. One option for the grant money is to donate it to nonprofits like Rebuilding Together, which often uses the funds to do far more than anticipated.

"It’s a great help to our city,” said Fragoso, who added Rebuilding Together does a remarkable job of making homes safer and also more energy efficient, which cut costs for residents during tight times.

Rebuilding Together Peninsula is always accepting volunteers and donations. For more information about Rebuilding Together Peninsula visit or call 366-6597.

Heather Murtagh can be reached by email: or by phone: (650) 344-5200 ext. 105.

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