Senior homeowners get help with repairs

January 10, 1994|By Sherry Joe | Sherry Joe,Staff Writer

Some Elkridge senior citizens who can't afford to do household repairs will get free help Saturday from a group of local businesses, churches and service organizations.

Called the Elkridge Project CARE Coalition, the 15-member group plans to visit five homes whose bathrooms, drain spouts and doors need repair. The group's name stands for Community Action to Reach the Elderly.

"We're acting as concerned businesses and Elkridge citizens," said Thom Shea, a coalition member who owns the Elkridge DeliMart on U.S. Route 1.

Established in May, the coalition seeks to help Elkridge seniors who live in rural areas, are physically disabled, are poor or have no one to care for them.

Its volunteer laborers include members of the Elkridge Area Jaycees, Grace Episcopal Church, the Elkridge Fire Department Ladies Auxiliary and the Elkridge Business and Professional Association.

The coalition was set up through a $6,000 six-month grant from the state Office on Aging. The grant also helped to create a

similar coalition in western Howard County.

Those communities were chosen because they have a number of seniors who lack the resources to remain independent, said Duane St. Clair, assistant administrator for community services in the county's Office on Aging.

"We wanted to increase our resources for senior citizens in those areas where we don't have senior centers" that provide social activities, meals and information, Mr. St. Clair said.

The Elkridge group decided to work on household repairs, something that requires immediate attention.

"These are the things that we could do right away," said Deborah Metzler, coalition member.

Such work is needed desperately because budget cutbacks eliminated a countywide home maintenance program three years ago, said Arleen Kvech, a volunteer coordinator from the county's Office on Aging, who works with both CARE coalitions.

If elderly residents are unable to do repairs, conditions could worsen and eventually force residents to move out of their homes, Ms. Kvech said.

"It's very important for people who have their own home" to be able to complete minor household repairs, she said. "This type of program allows these people to stop worrying about minor household repairs."

The coalition has repaired several homes, including one on Euclid Avenue where a fallen tree damaged the roof and rain gutter.

Millie and Edward Falter, who own the Euclid Avenue home, say they wouldn't have been able to do the repairs without the coalition's help.

"We're on a real tight budget," said Mrs. Falter, who noted that back problems and arthritis also prevented Mr. Falter from doing the repairs. "This job needed to be done, and he just couldn't do it."

On Saturday, volunteers plan to work on homes between 8 a.m. and 1 p.m. Materials and labor, which are estimated to cost more than $5,000, will be donated by area suppliers and contractors.

Jack Bateman, a real estate broker and coalition volunteer who has lived in Elkridge for 32 years, said he felt drawn to the group.

"I care," Mr. Bateman said.

Further information about the Saturday repair project is available by calling Ms. Kvech at 313-7213 or Mr. Shea at 379-5338.

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