Darien’s St. Luke’s Episcopal Church and Talmadge Hill Community Church joined 10 other groups revitalizing 12 low-income homes across the state during this year’s rescheduled HomeFront Day on Sept. 12. Community helpers focused exclusively on exterior repairs, addressing dangerous steps and walkways, rotting decks, yard cleanups and homes long overdue for fresh coats of paint. The local non-profit, HomeFront, provided N-95 dust masks, rubber gloves, goggles, work gloves and hand sanitizers for all participating volunteers. By the end of the day, persons with disabilities, older adults, single-parent households and low-income families benefited from the work of these socially distanced Samaritans.

Extending a tradition into their 27th year, volunteers from St. Luke’s Episcopal Church came to the aid of Ronald, a veteran in Norwalk and his wife, Mary. Weeks of planning culminated in a dramatic transformation. St. Luke’s volunteers rehabilitated a dangerous back deck, addressed a rotting entry door, replaced a window, installed new exterior lighting, cleaned up and landscaped the yard and completed a full exterior scrape and paint job. The Home Depot Foundation equipped HomeFront with the resources to build on the volunteers’ work by installing a new roof, as well as tackling repairs to the interior. Since 2011, the foundation has invested nearly $350 million in veteran causes, and improved more than 47,000 veteran homes and facilities in 4,500 cities. In 2018, the foundation pledged an additional $250 million to veteran causes, taking the total commitment to half a billion by 2025.

Further up the coast, volunteers from Talmadge Hill Community Church turned out to assist a single mom in Bridgeport and her 10-year-old daughter. The home of this young family was confronted with drafty windows, a hazardous deck, and a yard cluttered with unwanted items and overgrowth. In their 18th year of participation with HomeFront, Talmadge Hill Community volunteers eliminated all of these worries for the family.

This outpouring is all part of HomeFront’s Safer at Home campaign to improve living conditions for 60 local families this year who are directly or indirectly in the crosshairs of the pandemic, whether through susceptibility to the illness or loss of employment. COVID required cancelation of HomeFront Day this past May for the first time in 32 years. Local outcry for help with repairs has only multiplied since then.

HomeFront’s board chairman Kenneth Wiegand said “‘Stay Home, Stay Safe’ has been a familiar directive for all of us, but it has a slightly different meaning for the low-income families whose very homes are in hazardous, unhealthy shape. Our ‘Safer at Home’ commitment means bringing relief to those hurt by the first wave of this pandemic and improving the homes of those most at risk for future outbreaks.”

The modified approach to volunteer home repair is the second installment of HomeFront’s Safer at Home campaign. Since March, more than 27 local families have already received construction aid from HomeFront through its Critical Pro Repair (CPR) initiative. Skilled HomeFront staff have teamed up with one or two pro volunteers to deliver exterior repairs, such as wheelchair ramp installations, step and walkway overhauls and deck repairs, to struggling families.

HomeFront is a community-based program dedicated to keeping low-income homeowners in their homes with an improved quality of life through substantial repairs completed at no cost to them. More information can be found at www.homefrontprogram.org.