This year’s fourth annual “Labor of Love” event, sponsored by the Eyes on Austin community group (5519 W. North Ave.) is scheduled for this Saturday, Aug. 20 with a volunteer turnout expected to exceed last year’s total of approximately 300.
The event will pair volunteer residents of the Austin community along with residents from Oak Park, Ottawa, and Indiana with carpenters, roofers and glaciers to repair the houses of senior and disabled homeowners in the community from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m.
The targeted homes during the 10-hour event are chosen based on the amount and the immediacy of the work needed. They were selected from the dozens of applications EOA received.
“The houses that we choose to visit must be low-income properties owned by the resident,” said Semona Tobe, office manager of EOA. “They should be seniors with limited physical capacity, and their requested repairs must be doable within a 12-hour frame [including a potential 2-hour overtime] so that nothing is left undone.”
Due to the enormous volume of applications the organization receives, it is understandable that time generally will not allow them to visit each home. However, according to Tobe, no one is dismissed.
“We will save an application until next year if we have to, but we won’t ignore any request,” said Tobe. “Last year, we were able to see 35 houses. This year we will see close to 50. Next year, probably around 60.”
The types of repairs to be done generally are of a cosmetic nature, like a screen door that is leaning, or floor tiles that are pulled up or caulking on walls with severe cracking. The group, however, will not do repairs that may affect the value of the home or would require a permit to fix.
The initiators of the project include Sonny Jackson, James Hammonds and Jean Jackson, who is also the director of the Eyes on Austin community group.
The initiators form the committee responsible for deciding which houses are to be seen, as well as choosing the captain of each group. The captain is usually a tradesman who can lead the repair job and assure that the work is done with timely precision.
Each team captain will work with the community volunteers on one specific house. The workers will receive refreshments provided during the afternoon lunch break.
Many of the tradesmen who volunteer for the program were brought in from Ottawa, Ill. Sonny Jackson, himself a windows tradesman, was able to obtain the services of the carpenters through this connection.
For information on volunteering for this year’s Labor of Love or to obtain an application for next year’s, contact Eyes on Austin at 773/479-1569.