Lights, camera, community service

Marblehead resident Janice Walker is a mini celebrity these days after appearing in a recent episode of the popular PBS show, “Ask This Old House.” Walker runs the nonprofit Rebuilding Together Boston, which was featured on the program.

“It was extremely fun,” Walker told the Marblehead Current. “The ‘Ask This Old House’ talent and team are as much fun off camera as they are on camera. They tell the corniest jokes. You laugh so hard. And they’re so inclusive. They want so much to give back to the community.”

Marblehead’s Janice Walker joins the ‘Ask This Old House’ crew to repair a home.  COURTESY PHOTO / MIKE CASEY, THIS OLD HOUSE 

“Ask This Old House” is a spinoff of the PBS classic “This Old House” and is produced here in Boston. A crew from the show spent four days in September working and filming at the Dorchester home of Rosalind “Roz” Pendleton.

The house was built in 1884 and is in need of serious repairs. Pendleton, who is 75 years old, has lived there for 21 years. She has deep roots in her community and worked as a life coach at the local Welfare Transition Center, helping people make the move from welfare to work. She also served as an election poll worker.

Rebuilding Together reached out to “Ask This Old House” to help make repairs so Pendleton could stay in her home. The crew built a new deck with stairs and a backyard patio with lighting. All the materials were donated, and several volunteers joined the “Ask This Old House” crew to make the repairs. You can watch the episode here.

Walker attended a special showing of the episode with Pendleton and community leaders on Feb. 1.

“It was really all about Roz and watching her reaction,” Walker said. “It was very emotional.”

Walker has worked with Rebuilding Together for about 30 years, running its Boston chapter for the last year. The organization renovates homes for people who are unable to pay for essential repairs and updates.

The ‘Ask This Old House’ crew and volunteers stand on the new stairs at Roz Pendleton’s home. COURTESY PHOTO / MIKE CASEY, THIS OLD HOUSE

Since its founding in 1991, Rebuilding Together Boston has completed more than 520 renovation projects.

“We are repairing homes, we’re revitalizing communities,” Walker said. “I see us as neighbors helping neighbors.”

Walker, who has lived in Marblehead for about 20 years, is passionate about helping seniors stay in their homes. 

“Repairing people’s existing homes provides for intergenerational wealth when people live in their home and stay in their home and invest in their home and can pass that equity on to their children,” she said. “It’s taken for granted in many communities, but it’s huge.”

Walker continued, “Also, many people want to age in place, but you have to keep their homes safe by making sure they’re handicapped accessible and have things like grab bars [and] smoke detectors.”

Rebuilding Boston has started two new projects. Crews are repairing water damage at the Hyde Park home of a veteran and renovating the home of a Mattapan family with a child with cerebral palsy.

The response to the “Ask This Old House” episode has been overwhelming, Walker said.

“It’s been terrific, and the best part is that everyone who sees it is sharing it with their own family and friends,” she said. “We’re bringing so much awareness to the needs of the community and also Rebuilding Together.”

This Old House Volunteer Day 2022
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Editor Leigh Blander is an experienced TV, radio and print journalist who has written hundreds of stories for local newspapers, including the Marblehead Reporter.

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