Christmas in April was born in Midland Texas in 1973. Later, in 1988, a national office was created in Washington DC, to promote and guide the spread of the concept throughout the country. Their success is evident in the fact that, today, there are more than 136 affiliated programs in the 50 states, involving nearly 300,000 volunteers annually whose work has an annual market value in excess of $86 million.
Ron Stein, a local construction manager, became aware of this emerging national effort with the purpose of helping to rehabilitate the homes of low-income, senior and disabled homeowners sometime in late 1991, and was determined to bring the Christmas in April program to Dutchess County, making it the first such affiliate in New York State. Christmas in April*Dutchess County was incorporated early in 1992. Its name was changed in 2001 to Rebuilding Together with Christmas in April, Dutchess County to better describe our work.
In 2006, we transitioned completely to our new name Rebuilding Together Dutchess County. Along with Ron, the founding Board included Linda Byster-Hogan and Connie Cargain. Others in the inaugural group included: the Dutchess County Partnership, a major funder, Charles Stewart III, our Attorney and still an involved member of our Advisory Board, William Lavery, Burton Gold, Thomas McGrath, John Van Loan, Daniel Donovan, Linda Melton-Mann, Theodore Sturgis, and George Prisco, all of whom made tremendous contributions during our formative years. County Executive William Steinhaus was the honorary Chairman of the Board from our inception through his retirement in 2011.
The first National Rebuilding Day, on April 25, 1992, was an ambitious undertaking for the fledgling affiliate. More than 350 volunteers, including skilled trades people from the local plumbers, carpenters and electricians unions, made repairs to 11 homes in the City and Town of Poughkeepsie and did some exterior renovation work at the Gannett House Homeless Shelter. The City of Poughkeepsie Community Development Block Grant Program and the United Way of Dutchess County, Inc had provided start up funds. In addition, 10 local corporations and organizations signed on as Adopt-a-House sponsors and many others provided gifts-in-kind of materials and services. Central Hudson Gas and Electric Corporation was the very first sponsor, followed quickly by the IBM East Fishkill Employees Charitable Contribution Campaign, IBM Poughkeepsie, the Community Preservation Corporation/Cornell Cooperative Extension group, and the Poughkeepsie Journal/Gannett Foundation. Over the years, we have been blessed with the support of these and many other community spirited organizations throughout the County.
Much has changed over the past 20 years. We have grown to an organization that now rehabilitates, on average, 20 homes each year involving more than 700 volunteers. Clickover to the accomplishments page to see all that we have been able to give to the community during that time. And that is just the beginning as the need for our services continues to grow we too, will continue to grow and expand our services to homeowners. We recently changed our corporate name, but nothing else. One thing that will never change is our dedication to our mission of helping every one of our neighbors to live in a safe, warm and comfortable home, for as long as they are able.