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 Project Uplift is known for its mission to UPlift the community.  It is in this same spirit that we also support open forum.  We welcome those with experiences, concerns, comments, suggestions, questions, advice, and, above all, sincere desire to contribute to the overall betterment of those around them.
    Please feel free to take the time to browse our website at your leisure.  If there is anything that touches you in a way that compels you to comment or post, please do so!  We encourage it.  We have already taken the liberty to attach some wonderful reading on some of the subjects in which we are interested.  
Thank you for your interest,
The Project Uplift Team


Project Uplift Sponsor Spotlight: Rochester Homes Inc.

posted Apr 22, 2012, 7:48 PM by Anthony Ruffolo

Rochester Homes: The Advantages of Modular Construction:
Consistency in Quality

Rochester Homes utilizes modular building system technology in constructing your home. Each home is designed and built in a climate controlled environment to your specifications. We are not controlled by the weather and that means materials that go into your home are never exposed to harmful weather. Your home also goes through many quality inspections, including one by an independent third pary inspection company, recognized by your state.

Speed of Construction

Homes are built in one-third the time of typical on-site constructed homes, and are delivered to your site over 85% complete. Delays in construction due to weather, contractors not showing up, or missing materials is eliminated. With proper planning and coordination, with your authorized Rochester Homes builder, you can be living in your new home in a matter of weeks. Although speed of construction is realized through a modular building system approach, we never sacrifice the quality of materials and attention to detail. Click her to see a modular construction timeline.

Design Flexibility

Rochester Homes offers a wide variety of home styles and plans to choose from. We currently have two series to choose from.  The first is the Rochester Series which includes, Ranch, Cape Cod and Two Story and is availble in 26', 28', and 30' widths. This series is completely customizable and contains quality name brand components. The second is the Advantage Series which includes Ranch homes in 26' widths only. This series is engineered to be more affordable, but less customizable. This series may be more affordable but that does not mean we compromise the quality name brand components we are proud to use in our homes. Our wide variety of floor plans and options allow you the flexibility to customize your home to meet your distinct personal tastes. If you don't see a plan that meets your needs, ask your Rochester Homes dealer about the flexibility to revise an existing plan, or work closely with you on creating your own personal plan. Whatever your preferences, Rochester Homes provides the flexibility to meet them. Click here to see the components that come standard in our homes.

Cost Advantage

Because our homes are constructed faster, and are built in a controlled environment, utilizing modular building systems technology, we are ultimately able to pass along a cost savings to you. We feel confident that our large selection of floor plans, styles and options will allow you to find a Rochester Home that fits your budget. Our homes qualify for all conventional mortgage programs, and our homes meet the same mortgage rules and regulations that site-built  homes do. Generally you can save $15 to $25 per square foot as compared to total site built constructed to our specifications.

Energy Efficiency

Due to the fact that our homes are all built utiliizing the most up to date building systems technology and quality materials, you can rest assured that your new home will also be very energy efficient. We carry a high level of standards when it comes to insulating and sealing your home against the elements, which means you will save money on utility bills into the future.

Construction Standards

We have listed our standard components, and a cutaway rendering for each type of home below. Click on the pictures and standard links below for the cutaways and standards lists in a printable PDF format. 

Project Uplift Sponsor Spotlight: Ruffolo Builders Inc.

posted Apr 13, 2012, 5:43 AM by Anthony Ruffolo   [ updated Apr 22, 2012, 8:22 PM ]

  Ruffolo Builders Inc. has been building high-quality modular homes since 2005, with a focus on single-family residential housing and a growing presence in multi-family, vacation, 50+ and commercial building construction. Since then, we’ve built homes using precision instruments, innovative technologies and skilled craftsmen. We constantly reassess our procedures and processes to continuously improve the quality, cost and delivery of our homes. At Ruffolo Builders, we pride ourselves in consistently exceeding homeowner and builder expectations.

The future of Ruffolo Builders – and the modular home industry as a whole – is bright. This outlook will only improve as more site-built homebuilders switch to modular options and more prospective homeowners learn of the quality and value of the modular building process.

There was a time when windows were built on-site. But the pursuit of performance and innovation led to factory-built windows of higher quality. Home building is headed in the same direction. In the future, nearly all new homes will be built in a factory environment. The industry growth is almost limitless, and Ruffolo Builders Inc is poised to lead it. Please visit us at www.ruffolobuilders.com to see all our Modular floor plans.

Buckbee Seeds and Forest City Greenhouses

posted Mar 25, 2012, 10:26 AM by Anthony Ruffolo   [ updated Mar 25, 2012, 10:44 AM ]

We are continuing our look back at the Buckbee family, original builders of the 51,000-square-foot office and warehouse building that will house the Project Uplift headquarters.


In our previous post we talked about the family itself and briefly mentioned the Buckbee seed business. In this post we’ll look a little more at the company and its impact on Rockford.


Hiram W. Buckbee, born in 1860, began selling cabbage plants as a boy in 1871. From there he expanded his business into a huge operation that included a 350,000-square-foot warehouse, greenhouse complex, and trial area, along with a 15,000-acre seed farm. An 1892 biography of Jesse Buckbee (Hiram’s grandfather) noted that this “immense seed business conducted...under the name of H. W. BUCKBEE, with its collateral branches, Rockford Seed Farms and Forest City greenhouses, is one of the most important merchandising institutions, not only of Rockford, but of IL, and for that matter, of the U.S.”  In 1921, the year of Hiram’s death, his company mailed out 750,000 catalogues.


In addition to Buckbee, Rockford was home to three other prominent mail order seed and plant wholesalers: Roland H. Shumway, Alneer Brothers, and Condon Brothers. The four businesses would later merge under the name of Condon-Shumway, a company that stayed in business until the 1970s. Clients of the company included Bing Crosby and Perry Como.


And the Buckbee name lives on. Those of you familiar with heirloom gardening might be interested to know that Buckbee tomato seeds are available as heirloom seeds, from a pre-1930 variety, advertised in the Buckbee catalogue as "[t]he largest fruited, the smoothest, the finest in quality of all early scarlet tomatoes."



Johnson, Eric A. Rockford 1900-World War I. Chicago: Arcadia Publishing, 2003. Accessed via http://www.books.google.com/books?id=OjJ7B64se1sC&lpg=PP1&pg=PA5#v=onepage&q=buckbee&f=false, p. 50.








Helping Unemployed and Homeless Families in Rockford, IL

posted Mar 25, 2012, 10:21 AM by Anthony Ruffolo   [ updated Mar 25, 2012, 10:23 AM ]

An introduction to the goals and mission of Project Uplift NFP.

Welcome to the Project Uplift NFP blog. In this post, we will talk a little about our organization and our plans for the blog.


About Us


We are a 501 (c)3 non-profit organization with a mission to help unemployed and homeless individuals and low-income families in Rockford, IL. Our key fundraiser is a raffle for a new home or $70,000 cash prize!


In future posts, we’ll talk a little more about why we chose Rockford for our first project. For now, we’ll share some of the plans for how the funds and other donations we collect will improve the lives of those in need.


·         Launching our ITeach-ILearn Program. A recent study of the labor market in Rockford and area noted that workers here have good skills but need to broaden those skills and market themselves better. And that is the goal of our ITeach-ILearn Center—to teach people job search skills and help them learn new skills so they can apply for a wider range of jobs.

·         Collecting and Distributing Donations to Needy Families. By collecting donations of food, household items, books, and technology from members of the community, we will help those in need manage a little better. We will provide full recognition of all donations from individuals, families, and businesses.

·         Revitalizing the Rockford Community. We are working on a complete green renovation of the historic Herman Buckbee Building in downtown Rockford, with the goal of making this beautiful building our organization’s headquarters. We will also work with nearby businesses to transform this area into a historical district.

·         Emphasizing Green Building. We want to see Rockford become a model of environmental awareness and action!  Any of our future home building or placement projects will be in the form of green, sustainable places of residence that will provide increased energy efficiency, reduction in waste, pollution, and environmental degradation, as well as a healthier overall living environment. We will also be incorporating green building, alternative energy, and LEED training into the our ITeach-ILearn program.


Learn More about Project Uplift

To keep up with all of the exciting things we’re doing, we invite you to:


·         Read this blog for continuing features on our organization, the team behind it, our sponsors, and the progress of our efforts.

·         Follow us on Twitter at @ProjUpliftNFP.

·         Like us on Facebook.

Project Uplift Sponsor Spotlight: Superior Walls

posted Mar 25, 2012, 10:14 AM by Anthony Ruffolo   [ updated Mar 25, 2012, 10:53 AM ]

To start our charity new home raffle, we needed a solid foundation on which to build—and we mean that literally. Superior Walls has provided just that through its contribution of precast foundations for our prize home.


Superior Walls was founded in 1981 by Lancaster County, Pennsylvania home builder Mel Zimmerman. After years of research, Mr. Zimmerman successfully developed a precast foundation system designed to eliminate age-old problems of home building while providing a quick and easy way to build better and drier basements.


In early 2003, Superior Walls introduced the new XiTM wall. With added insulation and strength, this improved wall represents the foundation of the future for the building industry.


Not only are Superior Walls’ foundations an exceptional product, they are also an environmentally sensible option. In fact, Superior Walls is the first foundation company to earn the Green Approved Product designation by the NAHB Research Center. Builders choosing to use Superior Walls XiTM and R-5 foundations can earn up to 10 points on a project toward a National Green Building Certification.


Here are some other interesting facts about Superior Walls precast foundations:

·         Superior Walls produces precast insulated panels formed in climate-control setting and delivered to the new home site. Panels are removed with cranes and put in place by factory-certified installation teams.

·         Entire house below-ground foundation usually installs in less than a day.

·         Superior concrete does not react with freeze/thaw cycles and can be used in all climates.

·         Superior Walls products create warm, dry basements that are energy-efficient.

·         Superior Walls can help in the construction of an ENERGY STAR® qualified home. As a custom wall assembly, Superior Walls products contribute to the overall home insulation value and reduce air infiltration into the home, thereby making a huge impact on the overall energy efficiency rating of the home.


Superior Walls makes regular donations of its products to charitable organizations, and Project Uplift is grateful to have them on our team!

Thanks to everyone at Superior Walls for your generous support of our efforts to rise up Rockford!

Rockford’s Historic Buckbee Building

posted Mar 25, 2012, 10:13 AM by Anthony Ruffolo   [ updated Mar 25, 2012, 10:46 AM ]

While we at Project Uplift NFP are looking forward to the renovations that will take place in our future headquarters in the historic Buckbee Building, we thought we would also take a look back to see why this building is so significant to the history of Rockford, IL. Who were the Buckbees and what contribution did they make to Rockford?

We’ll begin by looking at the family. Jesse Buckbee was born in Orange County, New York in 1796. He was the son of a Revolutionary soldier who was descended from John Buckbee, an Englishman who settled on Manhattan Island in the 17thcentury.

In 1845, Jesse Buckbee purchased 300 acres of land in Winnebago County and relocated his family. He died shortly thereafter, but was survived by his wife and children. Among their children was Theodore, who later married Catherine E. Allington. Theodore and Catherine had two sons, Hiram W. and John T., who would later operate H.W. Buckbee Seed Farms and Forest City Greenhouses.

Theodore Buckbee (son of Jesse and father of Hiram) is described as follows in his biography:

“...his life was closely and almost entirely interwoven with the growth and material progress of the city.  No man ever lived who had more friends in Winnebago County nor whom more thoroughly deserved them.  His advice in business and public affairs was sought eagerly and often, and those who followed it had no regrets...As a member of the board of supervisors (for many years its chairman), he served the public with fidelity and unquestioned integrity.  He was chairman when the splendid memorial hall was erected in Rockford to commemorate the valor of the soldiers and sailors of Winnebago County, and at its dedication, June 1893, introduced to the audience Theodore Roosevelt, the orator of the day.  As an officer and director of the Winnebago County Fair Association, he paid special attention to the speed department and brought it up to a high standard, serving the society until it finally passed out of existence.”

Hiram was equally active in his community. He was a cornet player and member of the Forest City band. He was also a member of Rockford Lodge 102, the Chicago Athletic club, in the Rockford Chamber of Commerce, in the Society of American Florists, and in the American Seed Trade association, and was a director the Rockford National Bank.

Hiram Buckbee’s obituary notes that he performed “countless deeds of benevolence, unostentatiously and for the joy of doing good. No project for the advancement of Rockford ever lacked his moral and financial support and he dearly loved the city which was the scene of his successful business career.”

The Buckbee Building certainly has an illustrious history. In our next post we’ll talk a little more about the family business .




The Challenges and Promise in Rockford, IL

posted Mar 25, 2012, 10:12 AM by Anthony Ruffolo   [ updated Mar 25, 2012, 10:48 AM ]

When you look at the numbers, it is easy to see the challenges faced by the community of Rockford, IL. Here are just a few.

·         Although the unemployment rate went down from 13.3% in March, 2011 to 11.9% in April, it is still more than 3% higher than the rate for the state of Illinois, which sits at 8.7%.

·         House prices in six of the eight Rockford ZIP codes fell more than 10 percent between 2010 and 2011. The median price dropped from $67,000 in the first three months of 2010 to $46,150 in the first quarter of 2011. Nearly 800 new foreclosures were filed in the same period in 2011. (http://bit.ly/ju65ZS)

·         The median income in Illinois for 2009, the most recent figures available, was $53,974. For Winnebago County, that number is $44,390, a difference of $9,500 per year.

·         Rockford was recently named one of the top ten most dangerous cities in the U.S. because it has “unusually high violent-crime rates for a city of its size.” (http://bit.ly/lHwvn3)


·         11% of homeless individuals in Rockford are employed. Rockford Public Housing has a wait list of 2,000 people and receives 100 new applications per month.http://ow.ly/4XlKW

·         Demand for services at the Northern Illinois Food Bank has increased by 168% since 2006.

Despite these numbers, there has been good news of late. Some 1,800 jobs were added in the area between April, 2010 and April, 2011, with half in the manufacturing sector. (http://bit.ly/l1GGkD). The housing market in May of this year also showed some signs of life, with sales up 26.6% over April, and realtors reporting much improved home affordability indicators. (http://bit.ly/lH7Xzm)

And when you look beyond the numbers, you see people with a lot of hope for this city. A story that ran in the January 18, 2011 edition of New York Times Magazine shows people who are dedicated to their community and have a positive outlook for Rockford.

The people interviewed for this story shared their optimism, calling Rockford a “community on the rebound.” They talk about having roots in the community and wanting to help build it back up.

This is the spirit we share and the reason that we are working so hard to help raise up Rockford. We see the potential here and believe in a bright future for Rockford, if we all work together. We chose to celebrate this spirit of community building in our latest video, Raising Up Rockford. (http://bit.ly/rbc2in)

The Green Benefits of Modular Homes

posted Mar 25, 2012, 10:06 AM by Anthony Ruffolo   [ updated Mar 25, 2012, 10:50 AM ]

In our last post we talked about the importance of green building. In this post we will talk about the green benefits of a certain type of building: modular homes.


Modular homes, like the prize home in our raffle, are prefabricated in a factory. The sections, or modules, that make up each home are then delivered to the site and assembled into a single home. The photo gallery on our Raffle page shows the incredible results—a beautiful, modern home with the latest design touches.


Our modular home sponsor is Rochester Homes of Indiana. Their website discusses the green benefits of modular building. We have provided a summary here:

·         There is less environmental impact on the home building site. Homes assemble quickly, meaning less time is needed and less fuel is used for on-site construction vehicles. Waste is reduced because homes are 85% built when they arrive at the site, meaning less scrap overall.

·         Along with the walls used in a home, other components are factory-built, including trusses, cabinets and trim. Greater efficiency results in a lower environmental footprint. 

In addition to these general benefits, Rochester Homes follows other green building practices:


·         Low e glass, R38 insulation, and an air filtration wrap under all of the siding are used to increase the heating and cooling efficiency of the home.

·         All Rochester Homes wood products are recycled. Their goal is to have no wood from their operations end up in landfill. They recycle wood through their mill department and have also partnered with a mulch company to use wood scraps in landscaping projects.

·         All floor tile and carpet scraps are sold as remnants through a local flooring contractor to reduce waste.

·         All vinyl siding scrap is recycled and made into new vinyl products.

·         Copper wire is recycled and re-used.

·         Low or zero VOC (volatile organic compound) paints and solvents are used in the building process.


To learn more about the Rochester Homes building process and the company’s commitment to green building, visit their website

Volunteer to Help Needy Families in Rockford, IL

posted Mar 25, 2012, 10:03 AM by Anthony Ruffolo   [ updated Mar 25, 2012, 10:51 AM ]

Project Uplift is currently seeking volunteers. With a variety of roles to fill, there are positions to suit most schedules and experience levels.


Volunteer Opportunities Currently Available

·         Our key fundraiser is our new home raffle. For just $20 per ticket, participants will be entered in a raffle for a brand new home or a $70,000 cash prize. We are seeking volunteers to help promote the raffle.

·         We also need help spreading the word about Project Uplift. We are very active online, using Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn to raise our profile, but we would also like to be “on the ground” in Rockford and area, talking about the good work we do. Volunteers are needed to help with our awareness raising.

·         In order to do our work effectively, we need research into local issues, organizations we can partner with, and current statistics on homelessness and unemployment in Illinois and beyond. If you are adept at carrying out this kind of research, we would love to hear from you!

·         We intend to grow our organization and explore other methods of raising funds. We would like to build a corps of volunteers who can help us generate fundraising ideas and put them into action.

·         The key to our growth is finding new donors who can support us. Combining research skills and a good knowledge of our community, we are looking for volunteers who can help us find prospective donors.

If you are interested in helping Project Uplift, please contact us. If you know someone who is looking for volunteer opportunities, please share this post with them.


Thanks so much for your support!

Why is Green Building Important?

posted Mar 25, 2012, 10:01 AM by Anthony Ruffolo   [ updated Mar 25, 2012, 10:52 AM ]

An overview of why green building matters, and why Project Uplift is making green building a key part of its mission. 

Part of our mission at Project Uplift is to complete a green overhaul of our project headquarters and prepare for a green building movement “in an effort to contribute to the evolution of the neighborhood of Rockford, IL as a model for the expansion of environmental awareness in all communities within our society.” 

So what is green building and why is it so important?

The EPA defines green building as: “...the practice of creating structures and using processes that are environmentally responsible and resource-efficient throughout a building's life-cycle from siting to design, construction, operation, maintenance, renovation and deconstruction. This practice expands and complements the classical building design concerns of economy, utility, durability, and comfort. Green building is also known as a sustainable or high performance building.”

How do green buildings help? Again, the EPA has the answer. Green buildings may use sustainable materials in their construction and create healthier indoor environments by reducing the number of toxic chemicals emitted from materials like paint and carpeting. A look at the health effects of just a couple of these substances demonstrates why it is so important to minimize or eliminate their use:

·         Volatile organic compounds (VOCs)—found in paint, carpet, upholstery and carpet cleaners, acoustic ceiling tile, caulking, and many other places—can cause many health problems, like fatigue, headaches, drowsiness, dizziness, weakness, joint pain, peripheral numbness or tingling, blurred vision, and skin and eye irritation. (http://bit.ly/nOHwqQ

·         Formaldehyde, found in particleboard and some fabrics, can cause dry or sore throat, nosebleeds, headaches, fatigue, memory and concentration problems, nausea, dizziness, breathlessness, and burning, stinging, and pain in the eyes. (http://bit.ly/nqfPSa)

In addition to improving health, green building has other benefits, as outlined by the EPA: improving occupant productivity, creating markets for green products, and reducing operating costs. (The full list of benefits is available here: (http://1.usa.gov/pHhiYY)

For all of these reasons, we look forward to following the principles of green building and using our headquarters as an environmental showcase for the community.

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