Rio Ranchoan Mel Baca sits in his office. Baca, a disabled veteran, served in the Navy and Army Reserves. Mike Sandoval photo.

A Rio Rancho disabled veteran has become one of the most recent beneficiaries of a local nonprofit that helps with home repairs.
Since 1999, Rebuilding Together Sandoval County (RTSC) has helped low-income families in Sandoval County with no-cost repairs for their homes.
This year, RTSC received grants from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to fix or update homes in Sandoval County. One grant is to help low-income or disabled veterans.
One recipient of this grant is Mel Baca of Rio Rancho, whose roof RTSC recently repaired. The nonprofit will also fix a fence and add gutters to his home.
Disabled, Baca served in the U.S. Navy for 16 years and retired from the U.S. Army Reserves in 2010.
Through the United Way, grants, private donations and other philanthropic groups, RTSC has been able to help 10-15 local families a year. It’s a local affiliate of a national nonprofit organization, Rebuilding Together.
RTSC offers two programs: critical repairs, which make sure the home is functional and safe, and disability modifications, which allow disabled persons to live in their home with adaptations for their particular needs.
While organizers hire local contractors when needed, volunteers in the community do a lot of the work.
These programs are available for anyone who meets the criteria; one particular group this helps is senior citizens. Mike Schulz, on the RTSC board of directors, said the programs prevent seniors from having to decide between food, medication and necessary home repairs.
“Seniors, they are living off Social Security, typically. A lot of times, they’ve lost a spouse, so they’re on one person’s Social Security. They’re struggling just to pay the bills and put food on the table and making trade-offs between, ‘Should I get medication, or should I eat?’ and so the thing that falls off the table is home repairs,” said Schulz.
RTSC helps senior citizens get much-needed repairs and modifications to their homes at no cost to them.
Through RTSC and the new grant for veterans’ assistance, Baca was able to get the home repairs he needed.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the median age for veterans across the country is 65. A portion of those veterans live at or below the poverty line.
Baca learned of RTSC in 2000 when the group helped his mother with some repairs and adaptations, and even painted her home. He was very excited with the repairs that RTSC was set to do to his house.
“It’s a big relief, especially in my financial situation. It’s a relief that they are willing to do this for me, and I hope they are able to do this for other veterans,” he said.
Learn more about Rebuilding Together Sandoval County at Rebuildingtogethersandoval.org.

A roofing crew removes old shingles in preparation of putting new ones on Mel Baca’s home in Rio Rancho. Mike Sandoval photo.

Mike Sandoval | For the Observer