By Jerome Tharaud/Havre Daily Newsemail@example.com
This summer local volunteers will help several Havre senior citizens carry out repairs to their property - anything from trimming hedges to clearing gutters to fixing the hot water tank.
The United Way of Hill County will provide the equipment, materials and labor to do "anything around the house that they really need to get done but they can't afford to get done," as part of its annual Day of Caring, said United Way executive director Bob Rice.
"It'll be like Christmas in July," said Rice, who is also the mayor of Havre.
For the past six years the United Way has used volunteers to do projects for local agencies supported by United Way, like the Girl Scouts and the North Havre Community Services Food Bank.
This year the United Way will shift the focus of the Day of Caring to senior citizens living on a fixed income.
Rice said he suggested the idea to United Way of Hill County president Lori Henderson two weeks ago.
"Instead of keeping it in-house this year, we thought we'd take it out into the community and use it for these people that had been so generous with us," Rice said. "I think it's time for us to do something for the public that gives us the money."
Henderson loved the idea.
"I think it's an exceptional idea because there's many elderly in the community who either don't have family, or don't have family who live here, to do the things that we will do," she said.
The board was excited about the idea and approved it in April, she said.
"We realized that there might be people in the community, just single individuals, that for whatever reason couldn't get things done for themselves," she said.
About five people will be selected through a written application process that will take into account income and the feasibility of their request.
"I guess it'll kind of go to what we are capable of doing," Rice said. "We can't do a new roof," for example.
Projects might include painting houses or fixing fences, he said.
Henderson said the board would "help the people that needed it the most."
Written requests in the form of a letter to the United Way are due July 1, and the United Way board will choose five projects by July 15.
The work will tentatively be done on July 26, a Saturday. That is a change from past years, when the work was done on a Friday. Rice said he hoped the change would draw more volunteers. Henderson said it is possible that date will be moved because it conflicts with some other community events.
"Our goal is to accomplish it this summer," she said.
Last year, community volunteers scraped and painted the Girl Scout house in Havre. In 2001, they stripped and painted the North Havre Community Services Food Bank, and also carried out repairs and landscaping.
Henderson said she is hoping for at least 10 people to come forward to help with the work this year.
The United Way is now accepting request letters, which can be mailed to the Hill County United Way office, 518 First St.; to Rice at Havre City Hall, 520 Fourth St.; or to Rice's home at 427 Third Ave.
For more information, call the United Way at 265-6561.
Those interested in volunteering should call Henderson at 265-8633 or Rice at 265-6719.