Home-fixing charity to convene in Howard 14,500 houses repaired annually

September 29, 1993|By Ivan Penn | Ivan Penn,Staff Writer

A national organization that repairs houses for low-income, elderly and disabled homeowners is bringing its annual convention to Howard County, starting tomorrow.

Called "Christmas in April," the program began in Midland, Texas, in 1973 and has grown to include 113 other groups around the country.

Each year, the organization fixes an estimated 14,500 homes, with the aid of 315,000 volunteers. A national organization, Christmas in April USA, based in Washington, D.C., was formed five years ago to coordinate the various groups.

Two years ago, Howard County organized its own chapter and won a bid to play host to this year's national convention, expected to draw 135 participants from 65 programs in 26 states to the Columbia Inn tomorrow through Saturday.

"This is a real coup for us," said Neil Gaffney, president of the Howard County Christmas in April, which has repaired more than 60 homes with help from 2,000 volunteers since 1991.

With the addition of a Carroll County chapter this year, Maryland now has nine Christmas in April programs across the state, the third largest number in the country behind California and Texas.

This week's convention, which begins today with a congressional luncheon on Capitol Hill, will draw representatives from Christmas in April programs from as far away as Honolulu and Anchorage, Alaska.

The representatives convene tomorrow at the Columbia Inn for a series of seminars, including discussions on how to start new Christmas in April programs and how to train volunteers.

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