Amy Radachi (left) is president and CEO of Rebuilding Together Dayton, the organization that helped 84-year-old James Bailey (center) received home repairs and a new washer and dryer during National Rebuilding Day in 2017. Community volunteers contributed to the effort including Steve Kocis of Booz Allen Hamilton (right). CONTRIBUTED

Amy Radachi: The city’s Daytonian of the Year is our Daytonian of the Week

One question changed the course of her life

Amy Radachi is not only our Daytonian of the Week, she’s been named Daytonian of the Year by the city. 

Radachi, president and CEO of Rebuilding Together Dayton, has been recognized as “an individual who made the greatest contribution to Dayton in the previous year.” 

“Amy has made a lasting impact on Dayton by helping low-income homeowners keep their homes safe and maintained,” according to a press release from the city. She “shows extraordinary commitment to Dayton, both professionally and personally.” 

We recently caught up with the city’s Daytonian of the Year. 

Before and after photo from National Rebuilding Day 2018 in the Carillon neighborhood. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO
Photo: Picasa

What do you do and how did you get involved in your work? What other roles do you serve in the community? 

I help to keep low-income elderly Dayton-area homeowners in their homes in a safe and healthy environment. 

I became involved in 1995 when, while attending a conference, I met the president of what was then known as Christmas in April. By asking a total stranger a question, “What’s Christmas in April?” the entire course of my life was changed. I was working as a paralegal at the time and knew this was going to be my new life’s work. I was raised helping relatives at my mother’s side, so I’ve always had a heart for the elderly. 

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I’ve lived in my Dayton View historic district home for nearly 30 years, and I’ve been involved in my neighborhood association and crime watch initiative. I recently served as the president of the Dayton Rotary. I enjoy working on different committees within Rotary, including teaching Junior Achievement at Chaminade Julienne Catholic High School, where my older sons attended and youngest is a sophomore. 

What is Rebuilding Together Dayton? 

We are the Dayton affiliate of a national non-profit organization committed to creating safe and healthy homes for low-income seniors. 

According to the AARP, almost 90 percent of seniors over the age of 65 intend to age in place. We assist with urgent home repairs and modifications for our elderly neighbors, who have lived in their homes and communities for years. Most are female-headed households living on less than $17,000 a year, so they cannot afford to make the repairs necessary to remain safe in their homes. 

Last year we mobilized 664 volunteers to perform 538 repairs for 223 residents in 150 homes throughout Montgomery County. 

Amy Radachi and her beloved, Tom Maher. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

Why do you think Rebuilding Together Dayton is an important institution for the community? 

Most homes are not built to facilitate aging in place. Families with fewer financial resources are more likely to experience unsafe, unhealthy housing conditions and are least able to remedy them. 

Aging in place in your own home is typically more cost-effective compared to assisted living or nursing home facilities. Recent studies on Medicaid expenditures found that providing care and supportive services in the home – instead of nursing homes – resulted in savings of $22,588 to $49,078 annually per individual. 

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Home- and community-based supportive services for older adults are not only more cost-effective, but promote good quality of life. With 10,000 Americans turning 65 EVERY DAY, the need for our program is growing. 

Congratulations, you were recently named Daytonian of the Year by the City of Dayton. The award is given to an individual who has made the greatest contribution to Dayton in the previous year. What are your thoughts on that recognition? 

The best part about this award is the recognition that it brings to our organization and the growing need within our community to assist the elderly to age in place. 

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The award came with a check for $1,000, which is a huge help for a project we have where our existing funding sources don’t completely cover all of the needed expenses. It’s becoming increasingly more difficult to access unrestricted funding, so this award will make a huge impact on a local family in need. 

 We also recently received the Community Impact award from ABLE, GDVLP and LAWO at their Access to Justice event. It was rewarding to be in an audience of many of my former colleagues from the legal world to share what we can do when we put service above self. 

ROTC cadets from Cedarville University, Wright State and University of Dayton with a homeowner. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

If you could wave a magic wand, how would you solve housing problems in the city? 

I would eliminate all the barriers there are to getting things done. There would be ample funding (including funding for administrative costs), workable regulations and cooperative bureaucrats. 

The bottom line of our mission is simple – we help people. Sometimes that gets lost in all of the minutiae of restrictions, deadlines and red tape. 

 How do you describe Dayton to people who have never been here? 

You can get basically anywhere in about 20 minutes. There are amazing parks, endless history, friendly people, great restaurants, top-notch cultural offerings and always something to do no matter where your interests lie. 

Long-time friends Erin Jenks, Amy Radachi, Mary Beach, Janine Kinnison, Rosmary Dannin and Sue Seelig. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

What do you love about life in Dayton? 

I love that it’s so easy to get to where you need to be. My home is about three miles from most of where I go; it takes about three minutes to get to the office; I’m just as close to my son’s school. Most of my social activities center in and around downtown. Everyone is about one degree of separation from everyone else. If you need to get something done, you either know someone who can help or someone you know does. That’s why Daytonians are truly the best thing about Dayton. 

What would you do on a perfect date in Dayton? 

My beloved and I would take our three-mile hike through Woodland Cemetery. We always make sure to visit the top, the highest point in Dayton, to take in the view. Then we would have a drink at Toxic Brew Pub or Lucky’s, then dinner at Franco’s, where we have our favorite table and know the owner and his staff! 

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What would you change about Dayton? 

I can’t really think of anything I’d change about Dayton. I think we’re on the right track with more downtown growth and attention being paid to serious neighborhood housing issues with the HUD Choice program. We need to continue the momentum and share all that is great about our town. 

What do you think Dayton will look like in 10 to 15 years? 

I think in 10 to 15 years there will be affordable housing downtown for Sinclair students. I think we will be known as a hub for the high-tech industry. Our vacant houses will be demolished and replaced with community gardens and green space. We will develop our land around our rivers and make the most out of that unique amenity. 

Amy Radachi's sons, Sam, Jack and Will Radachi. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

What superpower would you love to have? 

I’m not sure if it would be considered a superpower, but I’d love to have my mom back to see her grandchildren grow up and become smart, strong, successful adults. I know she’s with us in spirit, but she would get so much joy being a part of their lives. 

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What inspires you about Dayton? 

The history of this community and all of the genius that has come from Dayton is incredibly inspiring. From the surface it feels like middle America, but it is really deeply rich in so many things that make our lives better every day.