Peter Brady, a member of my church, St. Joseph's in Brookfield, CT, runs a wonderful ministry. He started it 12 years ago when he retired and decided to rake a couple of lawns for elderly or sick neighbors who were unable to do it for themselves. That part of his ministry grew and grew so that now he has about 1,000 volunteers each fall to do about 80 homes. He was featured on NBC news last year and you can read about it here.
Peter's ministry has gone far beyond raking leaves and now does many things to help out those who are less fortunate, the homeless, the down trodden, the down on their luck. He has done complete home makeovers, put in handicapped ramps, fixed electrical problems, painted houses, and much, much more with his core of volunteers. Last week he heard of a single mother who had been homeless until a few weeks ago. Hers was a sad story. She was a cancer surviver twice with a double mastectomy; her 5 year old daughter's father was killed in a car crash when she was pregnant, so the little girl had never known him; her ex-husband was abusive and was responsible for the death of her 9 year old son in a DUI; she lost her elderly parents after caring for them, and was left homeless for various reasons. Through one charitable organization, she was able to find an apartment and get a part time job. She does have a college degree and is also a LPN. All she had was a single bed that she was sharing with her daughter and some odds and ends of kitchen things picked up at Good Will. She was able to pay the rent and buy groceries, but there was no money for anything else.
Peter sent out a call to his over 2,000 email recipients and within 2 days got enough new or very good used things to furnish the apartment. Yesterday morning was a bitterly cold day with temps in the teens and wind chills in the single numbers, but thankfully no snow on the ground or in the air. With a rented van, eight strong men and three women (including my friend Claire and me and now a new friend, Mary) spent the day yesterday putting it all together. Everything had to be carried up the outside staircase into the second floor apartment. Getting some of the furniture in was very tricky, especially the couch and big triple dresser. Of course we let the big strong men do all the heavy lifting and carrying and we three gals did the sprucing up, making beds, hanging pictures and giving it a woman's touch.
The kitchen before. Fortunately the apartment was very clean and freshly painted, so we didn't have to do any of that.
Kitchen after with new microwave, toaster oven, dishes, pots and pans and silver that match and a new green color scheme. The sink and refrigerator are behind me in the picture.
Living room before, devoid of any furniture, but cluttered with black trash bags full of her clothes and other belongings. She had cleared that all out before we got there.
Living room after with new rug, like-new leather couch and chair, coffee table, end tables, matching floor lamps and the wall behind me has a triple dresser for storage and a new small TV on top.
Child's room after with gently used trundle bed, pretty gently used rug, and all new bedding. What little girl would not love this color scheme?
Child's room again with a desk with pink bean bag chair beneath. The pink TV is only good for watching DVD's, but how cute is that? How about that lamp? There is a matching bed-side table.
Master bedroom after. The bedding was my contribution. I had such fun shopping and found everything at Home Goods. Someone else donated the pretty headboard and new carpet.
The apartment was very bright with plenty of window and mini-blinds on the windows. Too bad we couldn't do some sort of window treatments, but the blinds looked quite nice. We also wished that one of us had thought to take fresh flowers for the kitchen table.
Here's the group loading up the van with our bright red Handy Dandy Handyman (the name of Pete's ministry) T-shirts on.
Enjoying a pizza feast after the work was done. We got it all done in about three hours and then the women and Pete went back after lunch for the finishing touches, like hanging pictures and getting rid of all our empty bags.
It was such a fun and rewarding day. The client was out all day working and wouldn't be home until later. I would have loved to be a fly on the wall when she saw our results.