Since United Way of Eastern La Salle County’s first labor of love in 1992, volunteers of all ages have repaired and restored 919 homes.
Labor of Love celebrates its 31st year of supporting low income homeowners on Saturday 1st October.
The volunteer planning team, led by Bill Cairns, Brian Lacke and John Levy, have developed work plans for each of the 26 homes where Labor of Love intends to provide services.
United Way’s Labor of Love is a one-day community volunteer effort to repair, restore and winterize homes occupied by seniors, veterans, people with disabilities and low-income families.
As in previous years, Labor of Love plans to have hundreds of community volunteers band together and spread out in our local communities to provide free home repair services to neighbors in need. The organizers are looking for skilled and unskilled volunteers to help work small miracles for deserving homeowners who cannot do the work themselves and do not have the resources to hire the work done.
Anyone over the age of 14 can volunteer with Labor of Love. Volunteers and at least one caretaker are needed in each home. House captains take over the leadership of the team and coordinate the home projects. The House Captains will meet on Tuesday 6th and 13th September to select their Labor of Love home and to coordinate plans for the work to be carried out. Meetings will be held at United Way, 601 State St., Ottawa. Enter from the front of First National Bank Ottawa South Branch. To learn more about serving as a house captain, call the United Way at 815-434-4003.
Skilled workers, builders and contractors take on the most difficult tasks and provide the know-how; allow volunteers of all skill levels to get involved and help. Labor of Love needs at least 26 house captains; as well as all round skilled men and women, licensed roofers, plumbers, carpenters, electricians, concrete finishers, HVAC, flooring, siding and tree care professionals.
Volunteer help is also needed to serve the volunteers breakfast at 7am and lunch at noon and to help clean up.
Volunteers will spend the day on October 1st repairing, replacing and weathering to keep the homes of elderly, disabled and low-income homeowners warm, safe, dry and accessible. Projects range from roof and porch repairs; replacement and repair of doors, windows, plumbing and electrical fixtures; repair and installation of floors, gutters and cladding; general cleaning, paint and trash removal, furnace inspections; gardening, gutter cleaning, window cleaning; and, among other things, the installation of smoke and carbon monoxide detectors.
“Some of the repairs appear small, like installing grab bars so an elderly person can safely bathe and move around their home,” said Bill Cairns, co-chair of Labor of Love and a carpenter at Local 195/174. “Other repairs can involve extreme situations where people live with unsafe electricity or a non-functional heating system. All repairs dramatically affect the life of the recipient.”
The communities and rural areas of Ottawa, Marseille, Seneca, Sheridan and Naplate are home to local homeowners who have been approved to receive Labor of Love support in 2022. Applicants’ ages range from 50 to 93. All Labor of Love homeowners own and live in their home, meet eligibility criteria, including financial eligibility, and participate in a home preview process. Volunteers conduct eligibility checks, confirm home ownership, conduct home previews, and approve home selections. Priority will be given to homes owned and occupied by seniors who need improvements to address serious health, safety and accessibility needs. Application deadline was August 1st.
“One has to experience Labor of Love to appreciate the need that exists and the great sense of community that comes from working with other volunteers on a project to improve the lives of these homeowners and their families,” said Lisa Zoran, Kitchen Committee co-chair . “Labor of Love is possible because of the extraordinary local volunteer spirit that exists in our community.”
Individuals or groups interested in volunteering to help with any aspect of Labor of Love and for any time period on October 1st may pick up and fill out a Volunteer Form and Waiver. Forms are available from United Way, 601 State St., Ottawa. United Way is located in the South Branch of First National Bank of Ottawa. Forms can also be downloaded from www.unitedwayelc.org. Both the volunteer form and waiver must be completed, signed and returned to United Way before October 1st. Youth ages 14-17 must complete a student waiver signed by both the student and parent/guardian.
As in previous years, industry, churches, organizations and academic groups have come forward to take on a home as their own project and to provide the necessary manpower and strength needed to complete the work in a chosen home. In 2021, more than 258 volunteers improved 26 homes. Contractors made critical repairs to four homes, including replacing a floor, a roof and converting a bathroom to an accessible bathroom, and Stevenson Transfer relocated a disabled couple from an unsafe mobile home.
“The amount of work completed in each home will depend on the amount of contributions received and the number of volunteers who come forward to help on October 1,” said Brian Lacke, Labor of Love co-chair and electrician at Local 176.
“In addition to time gifts and ‘sweat capital,’ Labor of Love seeks financial support from the community,” Lacke added. “We need your help. As we all grapple with the costs of maintaining our homes, no one struggles more than the low-income homeowner. Today, more than ever, older adults and low-income families are empowered to choose between basic necessities like medication or paying a utility bill; verses that prevent a roof from leaking or repair faulty plumbing.”
Labor of Love works to ensure that as many seniors and disabled homeowners as possible don’t have to make these difficult decisions.
Donations may be sent by mail or delivery to Labor of Love, c/o United Way of Eastern La Salle County, 601 State St., Ottawa.
Call United Way at 815-434-4003 if you have additional questions.