HAVERHILL — For the 21st year in a row, volunteers will fan out Saturday across Haverhill and surrounding communities to make free repairs and improvements to homes of low-income senior citizens, disabled people, veterans and families with children.
This year’s Rebuilding Together Greater Haverhill event is targeting 11 homes in Haverhill, Groveland, Merrimack and Plaistow, N.H., said Michael McGonagle, a city councilor and president of Rebuilding Together organization. The group plans to make repairs to another four or five homes this summer, including a home in Georgetown, McGonagle said.
Typical projects include repairing roofs, fixing electrical and plumbing problems, installing energy-efficient windows, cleaning yards and building handicapped accessibility upgrades such as ramps and handrails, McGonagle said.
The all-day event begins at the Haverhill Lodge of Elks, where volunteers will be treated to a buffet-style breakfast including eggs, sausage and pancakes before heading to job sites. The lodge at 24 Summer St., across from City Hall and the Public Library, opens at 7 a.m. and breakfast ends at 8 a.m., McGonagle said.
The local Rebuilding Together group, which is an offshoot of the national program by the same name, specializes in home repairs, accessibility improvements and energy-efficiency upgrades for people who meet federal low-income guidelines.
More than 100 volunteers have pitched in with past Rebuilding days. McGonagle said the group is still looking for more help with this year’s jobs.
“Anyone who can sweep a floor, swing a hammer or clean a window can help,” McGonagle said. “And we need more skilled contractors too. The hardest thing we do is when we have to refuse someone who needs us. But it all depends on how many volunteers we have and whether they have the right skills to match the job.”
Anyone interested in helping should call the organization’s office at 978-469-0800 or show up at the Elks Lodge Saturday morning for breakfast, McGonagle said.
“This event creates an opportunity for local companies and organizations to come together with members of the community to help their neighbors,” said program manager Joan Parah. “The heart of our organization is the volunteers and smaller local businesses that donate their skills, time, building materials, supplies, food and beverages.”
“Our mission is to preserve and revitalize homes and communities, assuring that low-income homeowners, particularly the elderly, disabled, veterans or families with children, are able to live in warmth, safety and independence,” Parah said.
City Council agreed last week to waive work permit and dumping fees for the home repairs and to ask Mayor James Fiorentini to keep the public works yard on Primrose Street open late Saturday to accept waste and other materials from job sites. Councilors and other city officials typically participate in the Rebuilding Together event.
According to the Rebuilding web site, the Greater Haverhill chapter began in 1991 as “Christmas in April.” Since then, more than 1,500 volunteers have performed hundreds of building renovations, accessibility modifications and energy efficiency upgrades to more than 400 homes.
McGonagle said the group gets its money from private donations from individuals, corporations and businesses, including local banks and trusts, and annual funding from Haverhill’s federal affordable housing funds. The group also holds an annual golf tournament to raise money.
What: 21st annual Rebuilding Together Greater Haverhill
When: Saturday, April 26
Where: Day-long event begins at 7 with breakfast at the Elks Lodge, 24 Summer St
Needed: Volunteers to repair homes and clean yards of seniors, veterans, needy families
To help: Call 978-469-0800 or show up for breakfast at the lodge by 8 a.m.