Same Smile, Different Set of Wheels

By Executive Director Deanne Everton

Meet Your Neighbor Rudy Image 1

Rudy might be the coolest neighbor on the block: He encompasses the beauty and vibrance of San Jose as a true native, being born and raised here. At 67 years old, he’s owned his East Side San Jose home for 40 years and has celebrated lowrider culture ever since he can remember. Rudy is still an avid car aficionado now that he’s a retired tow truck driver and tank mechanic. He’s always enjoyed tinkering on any vehicle he can get his hands on, especially lowriders of course.

His daughter fondly remembers the feeling of delight she had as a child hanging out on the driveway with her father and uncles. She remembers the joy between herself, her father, and uncles as she watched them fix all sorts of equipment and try out all their tools. Before her father’s Rebuilding Day project, Rudy’s daughter told RTSV that Rudy was an incredibly loving father and made sure that all his children knew they were his source of pride.

Meet Your Neighbor Rudy Image 2

Rudy is the father of 4 adult children, 2 sons and 2 daughters. While three of them have since relocated to the Sacramento area, one of his daughters has remained local in San Jose to look after Rudy. Rudy has also always taken fashion very seriously, taking pride in referring to himself as a “fastidious dresser”. He is also passionate and very particular about the appearance of his home and its surroundings. 

Unfortunately, he has experienced several medical issues over the past decade which have brought a gradual decline in his mobility. He now navigates his daily life in a wheelchair.

Despite his physical challenges, his daughter says that his number one defining personality characteristic is his goofy and irrepressible sense of humor which he exhibits with everyone he meets “to the point that it can be embarrassing” (she says with obvious affection). Throughout the numerous hospital stays he’s endured, he is always a darling of the hospital staff due to his good-natured joking and upbeat attitude. Many doctors and nurses have commented on how inspiring it is to work with him.

During a recent hospital stay following a partial amputation of his foot, his unoccupied home underwent a large amount of water damage, leading to a black mold infestation. The idea of returning home from the medical facility is what pushed him to focus on healing and press on with physical therapy. While he was recovering, his daughter actively worked on remediating the water damage and mold issues that slowly deteriorated Rudy’s home.

How Much Did It Cost? 

Back in 1984, an average home in Rudy’s neighborhood cost $115,000. Adjusting for inflation, that’s $346,180.47 in 2024, but currently an average home in East San Jose costs $990,000. That’s what makes our work so critical. Without our repairs, where would Rudy afford to call home?

Rudy’s home needed substantial critical repairs before our [Re]Builder volunteers put the finishing touches on his home’s transformation with debris clean-up and a fresh coat of paint. RTSV first focused on the overall condition of Rudy’s home by looking at the exterior, appliances, and safety concerns inside the home. Our staff sealed gutters and repaired stucco damage to exterior walls to divert runoff water from causing further damage, installed 2 grab bars in Rudy’s master shower to allow him to keep his independence in the bathroom, and addressed critical plumbing issues with repairs to plumbing leaks under his home as well as repairing the toilet. After RTSV staff hammered away on repairs that addressed critical safety concerns and would help Rudy age in place, his home was ready for our [Re]Builder volunteer crew!

Meet Your Neighbor Rudy Image 3

During RTSV’s National Rebuilding Day last year in 2023, Rudy and his family welcomed RTSV and our [Re]Builder volunteers to his home. Volunteers diligently worked to remove 40 yards of debris around his home before rebuilding a brick planter and brightening his home with a beautiful, new coat of paint. Even San Jose Mayor Matt Mahan helped transform Rudy’s home, insisting that volunteers should not hesitate to instruct him however they needed help.

Seeing our community come together for one of our wonderful neighbors in need like Rudy reminds me how much we can accomplish when we work on rebuilding together. Your support brings the magic of Rebuilding Day to families like Rudy’s that depend on our services to stay safe in their homes. 

Meet Your Neighbor Rudy Image 4

The impact we create helps families address worries of their loved ones aging in place by ensuring they have the proper tools and preventative measures to remain independent. Home is where the heart is, and the critical repairs we address in each home keep families safe so they can continue creating beautiful memories like the ones Rudy and his daughter have in their home. Our work changes lives, from the families we support with critical repairs, the neighborhood pride we restore when we transform homes with a shiny new coat of paint, and the future generations that can enjoy these vibrant and safer communities. 

I hope that you join us in supporting our life-changing work because you make it all possible. And after all, isn’t that the meaning of Rebuilding Together?

At Rebuilding Together – Silicon Valley, we believe that everyone deserves to live in a safe and healthy home, so we help provide critical home repairs to over 600 clients per year, including to those who are aging in place. We rely on generous donations—from supporters like you—to continue our essential work and the positive impact we have in these communities.

You can help us make a difference in these communities by donating to our cause today or you can learn more information about what your donations help us accomplish by watching Mary and Tom’s story!

Our Work Takes Grit!

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