|Clifford Long repairs a front step during the Big Fix in Falmouth last month.|
With one knee on the ground, Falmouth’s Clifford Long hammered a nail into a piece of wood, repairing the front steps leading into John Martin’s North Falmouth home.
“I think this is something we should do more of,” said Long, taking a short break as dozens of other volunteers around him removed brush from Mr. Martin’s yard. In the back a crew from Home Depot was staining Mr. Martin’s deck. “So many people, we could make their homes affordable if we all put a little love and attention into them.”
About 20 feet away, Mr. Martin sat in a wheelchair inside his home. An Army veteran who served two years in Korea, Mr. Martin marveled at the kindness of complete strangers like Clifford Long. “You know what this is like? You hear people talking about neighborhoods. If this isn’t a sign of a neighborhood, I don’t know what is.”
What Mr. Martin calls a neighborhood, others call community, and in the middle of last month, there was plenty of that on display during HAC’s 8th Annual Big Fix in Falmouth. A total of 340 volunteers – a record for the Big Fix – showed up to make small improvements to 18 homes owned by veterans, seniors and disabled residents in the Upper Cape community.
If that wasn’t enough, one small group dedicated their time to beautifying the Falmouth Senior Center.
|Big Fix recipient Tina Barr (left) with Rev. John Terry of the First Congregational Church in Sandwich and HAC's Meg Chaffee. Rev. Terry, an advocate for affordable housing, organized a group of volunteers, the "First Fixers", from the church.|
“This is really the meaning of community service and it’s what makes the Cape and Islands so special,” said Falmouth Selectman Megan English Braga during the kick-off to the Big Fix at the Lawrence School.
At the kick-off, HAC CEO Alisa Galazzi took a moment to praise the work the volunteers were doing. “It really means a lot to be able to have this community support and to come out and help these [people],” she said. “This helps them stay in place.”
These were people like 91-year-old Jim Crossen who served in the U.S. Navy during World War II. At his home, a small crew of volunteers repaired his garage door while his daughter Jamie spoke about what the Big Fix meant to her. “What I think is really great is that knowing my dad, he has given so much to the community and volunteering his time, and now it’s nice it comes full circle and people are doing the same for him,” she said.
“I never could do this myself,” West Falmouth’s Valerie Tillman said outside her home where volunteers were clearing brush, removing weeds, and mulching her flower beds.
It was a similar scene at Dorothy Sgarzi’s home in East Falmouth, where volunteer Dana Robert remarked, “It is amazing how much work you can do with so many hands” after crews had finished beautifying her yard.
While the calendar may have read September 16, Christine (Tina) Barr of East Falmouth said the Big Fix actually felt like a holiday. “It was like Christmas morning,” she said. “This was much more than I could have ever imagined.”