In a true expression of neighbor helping neighbor, Christmas in April volunteers bring assistance to homeowners in need on their annual workday each spring. In 2013, the Calvert Count chapter of Christmas in April repaired a total of 34 homes, doing everything from cleaning gutters to roofing to landscaping. This week’s Friday Focus is a conversation with Bill Lloyd, President of Christmas in April*Calvert County, Inc.
Q: Tell us about your organization (who you serve, what you do, etc.)
A: Christmas in April*Calvert County, Inc., a United Way partner started in Calvert County in 1991, is a nonprofit, volunteer organization that repairs and improves the homes of low-income homeowners. Low-income homeowners, especially the elderly, disabled and families with children, are eligible to apply for Christmas in April services. All repairs are paid for by Christmas in April. Homeowners are not expected to pay for any services provided. Once a home is referred, a home visit is made by the House Selection Committee. The Board ultimately makes the difficult determination as to whether the house meets the eligibility criteria, is in need and can be repaired by Christmas in April in one day. Homeowners and family members who are present and who are able-bodied are expected to work alongside volunteers on the Christmas in April work day, which is the last Saturday in April every year.
Q: What is your favorite “moment” (example of how your organization helped)?
A: There are so many “moments” that happen on our workday. Just the look of happiness on homeowners’ faces on the workday is priceless. Imagine going five years without hot water, and then a group of strangers come to your home and not only fix your water heater but also landscape, remove trash and paint the inside of your house. I’m not sure who gets the most gratification, the homeowner or the volunteer. Our volunteers return every year!
Q: What is your biggest challenge?
A: We are always looking for more “house captains” that can lead a work crew in repairing the homes of our applicants. More donations are always welcome because we are a 100% volunteer organization, with all donations used to purchase supplies for the repairs of the homes. More donations would mean that we could repair more homes.
Q: Are there any upcoming events?
A: Yes, our application period is fast approaching. We only review applications during September and October, choosing and visiting the homes in November and assembling work crews in December. Applications received after October will have to wait until the following September to be considered. Applications are available on our website, at the office of aging, at the library, and at most churches. Homeowners that are interested in having their home worked on should have their application in during that time. A lot of work will need to be done before the workday including meeting the homeowner, ordering supplies and assembling work crews. The “work day” is always the last Saturday in April. The Board of Directors works yearlong preparing for that one day. Over 800 volunteers work on up to 32 homes each year.
Q: How can people get involved with your organization?
A: People who are interested in making donations or volunteering to work with us on our work day can print or email the relevant form from our website www.christmasinaprilcalvertcounty.org.