WBAY Cares: Rebuilding Together volunteers give new life to old space in Appleton

A school and church listed on the National Register of Historic Places is getting a facelift thanks to a non-profit organization
Published: Aug. 1, 2023 at 7:06 PM CDT
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APPLETON, Wis. (WBAY) - It has been a fixture of the Appleton community for more than a century.

Now a school and church listed on the National Register of Historic Places is getting a facelift thanks to the non-profit organization Rebuilding Together Fox Valley and its dedicated volunteers.

Standing tall and proud near downtown Appleton for more than 120 years, Zion Lutheran Church and its former school that’s now home to the Appleton Bilingual School is need of a little “tlc” every now and again to maintain its magnificence.

“Today we painted some different rooms and a fire escape outside. Just kind of freshen it up. Give people a new kind of, revamp their space a little bit,” said Elizabeth Wyngaard, a Secura Data Analyst Intern.

Elizabeth Wyngaard and her fellow data analyst interns and supervisors with Secura Insurance paired up with rebuilding together fox valley to complete this service project.

“We are so grateful because we don’t have enough volunteers and young enough to do this work, so it’s fantastic in the Valley what they’re doing for communities, nonprofits,” Gwen Schwandt, Property Committee Member of Zion Lutheran Church.

“We help nonprofits further their mission by providing things they’re not able to fund themselves, so it’s really difficult to be able to pay for simple modifications, repairs or even a paint job. So we’re able to come in, provide the volunteers and the funds to be able to do that, and it really makes an incredible difference in the end,” said Chip Wood, Executive Director of Rebuilding Together Fox Valley.

In addition to schools, shelters and other public spaces, last year Rebuilding Together Fox Valley and its 500 volunteers made health and safety improvements to nearly 140 homes, impacting over 220 people considered low-income, many living with disabilities.

“Being able to come in and provide everything that we do at no cost to them is just so incredibly rewarding,” said Wood.

Executive Director Chip Wood calls the generous donors and volunteers like Wyngaard Who Are Willing To Try A New Skill The Life Blood Of Rebuilding Together.

At this church and school, its neighbors helping neighbors to brighten a gathering place they can all be proud of.

“We’re just grateful that this is another area that’s complete. It looks like brand new again. It just heartwarming,” said Schwandt.

“Oh it feels so great to be able to give back to them. We’ve had a few people from the church stop in and they’re so appreciative, so it’s nice to know that our days’ worth of work means so much to them,” said Wyngaard.