Fall is officially upon us. For me, the weather change evokes memories of our very first Fix-Up Festival, back in 2010.
In that first year we made up for what we lacked in experience and foresight with passion and determination. We had a single Project Manager for all six projects (a saint, right?) who wrangled with construction industry business owners to get them to donate or reduce the prices on their goods and professional services. Our good will was so contagious that one worker refused payment!
In this way, we were able to do more for one of the homeowners than we’d promised—adding insulation to reduce heating bills and installing a concrete, permanent wheelchair ramp. That gentleman was reduced to tears, and his out-of-town sister wrote us a touching note along with a contribution to support the cause. One homeowner, afflicted with advanced-stage Alzheimer’s, had his spirits lifted by the workers so much that his wife told us he smiled and joked for the first time in months. The volunteers were excited to be involved in the effort, and could see first-hand the homeowners' gratitude for the work we did.
That first year our small but enthusiastic team had three goals, which carry through today:
- To give low-income homeowners some relief by doing repairs that make their homes safer, more comfortable, and more energy-efficient, giving preference to elderly or disabled people, or those without family support to help do the work.
- To join in fellowship and cooperation with diverse service organizations (and later, businesses and individuals) by working together on one designated day to do the work.
- To become self-sustaining after that first year, depending on outside donors for the costs of repairs so that only administrative costs are handled by Rotary.
Now, five years later, Fix-Up Festival brings together 200+ volunteers from across the community, mostly non-Rotarians, and with community financial support, handles $30,000 in home repairs (12 projects) each year. The project is financially viable, always operating in the black. But the most important part is that we bringing our community together to truly change lives of people in need, in our own community—and by doing that, we are changing our own.
This year’s Fix-Up Festival is Saturday, October 4. If you’ve never experienced what it’s like to participate in one of our club’s most feel-good service opportunities, I encourage you to sign up to volunteer today. If you need help connecting to the Fix-Up Festival committee, please send me a message at email@example.com