Even with the pandemic, Housing Assistance’s 11th Annual Big Fix-A-Thon was a success with volunteers helping raise nearly $20,000 for our Workforce Housing Relief Fund. Some even embraced the spirit of the annual event by donating their time to give back to their neighbors and our community.
Gift of Friendship
Not long after Harriet Guyon was released from the hospital, Housing Assistance Chief Operating Officer Walter Phinney and several of his friends spent a few hours welcoming her home in the best way they knew how.
On a Saturday in October, they cleaned her yard, trimming shrubs so she could look out her windows, removing ivy that had grown on the front and side of her house, and trimming trees hanging over a ramp leading into the home. The team also installed non-slip tread on Harriet’s ramp to prevent her from falling.
“When I heard about my friend’s mother being in the hospital, she was the first person I thought of for this,” Walter said. “Although I’ve always enjoyed the Big Fix, I found it more personally meaningful this year because I was helping my friend’s mother. There was a real personal connection to the project.”
For Harriet, it was the perfect gift that came at the perfect time. “This has been such a difficult year for all of us which is why I was so moved to see the lengths Walter and his friends went to give back to me,” she said. “I am so grateful for their help and it’s made me appreciate this home I’ve lived in for more than 45 years.”
The support didn’t stop there. Housing Assistance’s Energy Department recently conducted an audit of Harriet’s home, taking steps to make it more efficient and keep it warmer in the coming winter months. And next year, Walter and his crew are already planning to return to do a spring cleanup of Harriet’s home.
Being a Good Neighbor
Twelve years ago, Sunny Fellman and her husband bought their first house thanks to down payment assistance from Housing Assistance. Because of that, Fellman said, “we really have a place in our hearts for what Housing Assistance Corporation does for our community.”
Since 2018, Fellman has done her part to give back as a volunteer at our Big Fix-A-Thon. When she learned the event was going virtual this year, she said, “we decided we couldn’t not do it.”
So Fellman organized a massive yard cleanup for a single mother who has lived in her home since 2011. “I am overwhelmed,” the woman said as more than a dozen neighbors removed trash, hauled brush, and landscaped her yard. “This is a huge help.”
“She is my neighbor and she needs a hand,” David Lake said of why he joined the neighborhood cleanup.
In her backyard, Patrick Willis was busy clearing brush and trimming trees. “This is what community is all about, really – reaching out to one another and taking care of each other,” he said.
A Bridge to Health and Safety
On a sunny September morning, Mike Schuh and Kyle Forgeron of Cape Associates helped repair a wooden ramp outside of AJ and Sharon’s Orleans’ home.
It was a relatively minor project that meant a world of difference for the couple who both have cerebral palsy. “This is my wife’s only way of getting in and out of the house in a power wheelchair,” AJ said. “Having this [ramp] in good shape is a vital link to my wife’s treatment. I thank the people that did this for us because it shows how much little things help people who have problems.”
For Kyle, there was no question whether he would volunteer to giving back to Sharon and AJ. “My faith, I’ve been taught that it’s loving your neighbor as yourself,” he said. “I know that something like this, if I was in need and I needed help, this is something I would love to have done to me. Being able to help out AJ here is a blessing.”