Hazel Clarke was the recipient of bushels of goodwill today.
Her home of 37 years, in Arbutus, also started getting a lot of tender loving care. Gov. William Donald Schaefer and other state officials, representatives of home-improvement companies and others gathered in her back yard to kick off "Senior Housepitality," a program to refurbish homes of 55 elderly residents on fixed incomes.
"I'm so happy about it," said Mrs. Clarke, 75. Her house has been falling into disrepair, but she wants to stay there.
"My roots are here," she said, as workmen donating their time and skills began scraping paint from the exterior of her two-story, brick rowhouse.
The kickoff of "Senior Housepitality" coincided with the announcement of similar private effort in Baltimore and Baltimore County. That program, called "Christmas in April," involves about 2,000 home-improvement workers donating their skills to 77 elderly and handicapped residents on April 25.
A similar number of workers are involved in "Senior Housepitality."
At Mrs. Clarke's home, workmen already have installed louder doorbells so she can hear them better. They also put in new smoke alarms. They planned to do some painting, put up new rain gutters and replace insulation.
Mrs. Clarke is exactly the type of person the program is designed for, said Gary Blucher, vice president and treasurer of the Home Builders Association of Maryland. Her husband died 22 years ago and she hasn't been able to keep up with basic maintenance on her home.
Member companies from the association are providing labor and expertise for "Senior Housepitality." The Hechinger Co. is providing more than $100,000 worth of materials. And the Maryland Office on Aging has located the homeowners in need of help.
Work will be done on the 55 homes throughout this month. Those benefiting live throughout the metropolitan area.
"It makes a real difference," Governor Schaefer said. "They are little things that you don't think about until it's you."