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Fairfield Citizen

Saturday, November 22, 2014

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On the HomeFront: Volunteer repairs turn storm-damaged house back into a home

Published 5:30 pm, Sunday, May 4, 2014

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  • Chris Purcell, a HomeFront board member, at the Lenox Road home he and a team of volunteers helped repair Saturday. Photo: Mike Lauterborn / Fairfield Citizen
    Chris Purcell, a HomeFront board member, at the Lenox Road home he and a team of volunteers helped repair Saturday. Photo: Mike Lauterborn

 

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It was all hands on deck at a Lenox Road home Saturday as a team of HomeFront volunteers collaborated to repair and renovate the resident's home, which still showed the effects of damage inflicted by Superstorm Sandy.

Under the guidance of Chris Purcell, a HomeFront board member, employees from Deloitte accounting firm in Wilton set about patching, painting, dusting, cleaning, adding handicapped access, gardening and generally renovating the structure, owned by 73-year-old William Crittenden.

Crittenden has difficulty getting around and was overwhelmed by the work that needed to be done.

The home's roof had been damaged by the fierce storm in 2012, which subsequently caused serious water damage inside.

"Storm Sandy really made a mess of things, with bad leaks, especially over the kitchen," said Crittenden. "I heard of HomeFront through a neighbor. They sent a man out to do an evaluation, I put my request in and, fortunately, I qualified."

A HomeFront team initially visited his home last year to fix the roof and exterior elements. "This year, we returned to fix the water damage and do upgrades," said Jordan Haynes, a Deloitte employee serving as the project's house captain. "Deloitte already does a day of community service called Impact Day, but this effort is beyond that. Several of our people started the relationship with HomeFront some 20 years ago, and have restored many homes over the years."

With regard to Storm Sandy recovery, HomeFront collaborates with the American Red Cross, according to Purcell. "They've taken some of their funding and distributed it to HomeFront for projects qualified by their organization," he said.

For Purcell and the volunteers, the work is rewarding. "We are directly impacting individuals," he said. "We get to meet them and know them during the course of the project. We're working on someone's house that needs it and they're grateful for the assistance. It makes any family-time sacrifices worth it. We could be enjoying the beautiful day on our own, but this is truly rewarding. The smiles on the owners' faces at the end of the day when we've transformed their homes is well worth it."

Crittenden, whose grandfather built the home, looked on as the team went about the renovations. "I think this is a very good thing, and it's nice to have the help for older people like me who can't seem to do this work on their own," he said.

Purcell noted that HomeFront planning team is a "tiny" group with just four employees, but accomplishes a great deal with assistance. "With our volunteer army, we impact 60 to 70 homes and community centers per year," he said.