Above: Vincent Lalicata, Big Fix recipient along with HAC's Director of Resource Development, Lisa Guyon.
“I’m overwhelmed,” said homeowner Lorraine Carroll as she watched volunteers remove overgrown shrubs from her front yard. “It’s been a lot of years of being alone and not being able to keep up with the simple maintenance. To see these volunteers out here in the wet weather helping a stranger, it’s just fantastic.”
Despite the dark and drizzly weather, 195 volunteers showed up for duty in Dennis in the third annual Big Fix on Sept. 29. State Representative Cleon Turner opened the day with a story relating to family, work ethic and the fact that “we won’t melt” getting this work done. Rep. Turner also was one of the volunteers.
This year’s Big Fix provided 10 Dennis homeowners with assistance with home maintenance projects and repairs. In previous Big Fixes, volunteers helped 22 senior homeowners in Barnstable in 2010 and seven homeowners in Sandwich last year. HAC’s vision of this event is to make home and landscaping improvements that will enhance the comfort, safety and quality of life for seniors, the disabled and veterans. “This event aligns perfectly with HAC’s mission to deliver safe, stable and decent housing to all on Cape Cod,” said Julie Wake of HAC.
“I already feel the difference with the new insulation and siding. Look at these wonderful people working together,” Vincent Lalicata said as he watched several skilled professionals from Cape Associates prepare to tighten his home up with new sheathing and shingles. The Cape Associates team had started Lalicata’s house a few days prior to the event due to impending wet weather.
Roy Leonard looked on as volunteers weeded, removed tangled vines and mulched in his yard. “This is so appreciated. I’ve been here for over 25 years. My wife recently passed and things have begun to overwhelm me.”
The HAC Big Fix team worked with several agencies to find homeowners in need. Chief Mike Whalen of the Dennis Police Department was a key influencer in getting the word out. Early on the team met with the Dennis Board of Selectman, the Dennis Police Department, the Council on Aging and the Dennis Board of Health to receive suggestions on outreach. In the end, the team secured 10 homeowners who fit the profile.
HAC received a $3,000 grant from the Home Depot Foundation to purchase materials and supplies. Several local businesses contributed equipment for repairs and teams of skilled craftsmen. Lunch for the volunteers was supplied by Stop and Shop of Dennis (sandwiches and apples), Starbucks in Hyannis (coffee and treats), Cape Cod Potato Chips, Krista K’s Ice Cream (ice cream sandwiches) and Hyannis Food Service (water).
Recruiting the volunteers was the key to making this a successful event.
Jonah and Joshua Shea, founders of Shea’s Youth Basketball Association, encouraged 15 members of their group to volunteer for the Big Fix. “It’s important to take part in community events such as this, to give back,” said Jonah.
“As a team leader for the past three events, I’m amazed by the generosity and kindness of those who volunteer,” said Cindi Maule, director of HAC’s Leased Housing Department. “I hope the volunteers know that the act of kindness went beyond the tasks at hand. What a wonderful and unexpected gift they offer to the homeowner.”
“Over 600 hours in volunteerism was given to neighbors by neighbors,” said Lisa Guyon, HAC’s Resource Development Director. “The amazing volunteer response to this year’s Big Fix proves that giving and kindness and concern for your neighbors is alive and well on Cape Cod.”