70-year-old Daly City woman gets surprise home makeover from volunteers

A nonprofit on the Peninsula is helping six families in need by making much needed repairs to their homes.

Rochelle Fortier Nwadibia’s home in Daly City was taken over by 15 volunteers Wednesday to makeover to her backyard. At 70, Fortier Nwadibia said she could no longer maintain it.

"The ivy was completely overgrown," she said. "I had people come and clear it several times, but the foliage kept coming back. I’m not in my 50s anymore or my 60s for that matter. I just couldn't possibly do it."

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Her home is one of six in Daly City that were chosen as part of the Rebuild A Block Program. It's made possible by the nonprofit Rebuilding Together Peninsula and Lowe's, which provides essential work at no cost to the homeowners, including stair repairs, landscaping, and fencing renovations. Lowe’s provides the labor and materials.

"We want to create a backyard experience where it's inviting, and she wants to bring over family and friends," Brad Bemis, Store Manager at the San Bruno Lowe’s, said. "We're just really happy to give back to the community and be a part of it."

"Prices are going up and those of us who live in older homes are really starting to have a lot of challenges," Fortier Nwadibia said. "This house was built in 1952, and I have a lot of other projects I need to work on."

According to Robert Skelton with Rebuilding Together Peninsula, many homes in San Mateo County are in dire need of repairs due to deferred maintenance, poor homeowner health, fixed incomes and various other factors that impact neighbors’ abilities to afford repairs. The homeowners must apply for the help and are selected if they meet certain qualifications.

"The work that we do enables people to regain the pride they may have once had in their home," Skelton said.

Fortier Nwadibia is getting low-maintenance landscaping, including pavers and a fire pit, on top of the repairs to the fence and stairs.

"It is totally incredible really," she added. "It's just way more than I expected."