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Volunteers, businesses give home makeover to deserving couple



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Removing the Reddaways’ old water heater are Christmas in Action member Earl Canon (left) and an unidentified member of St. Joseph Catholic Church in Lake Orion. (click for larger version)
May 04, 2011 - When it comes right down to it, all we really have in life is each other.

No one understands that better than longtime Oxford residents Dick and Peggy Reddaway.

On Saturday, 50 volunteers from the Northeast Oakland Chapter of Christmas in Action descended on the Reddaways' Pointe Drive home to give it a comprehensive makeover and improve the overall quality of the couple's life together.

"It's hard to put into words. You just don't realize how many good people there are and how much they are willing to do for others," Peggy said. "It's just overwhelming – absolutely overwhelming."

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Utilizing the twin pillars of volunteerism and community partnerships, Christmas in Action (CIA) provides free home repairs that enable low-income and handicapped senior citizens to remain safe, warm and independent in their homes.

At the Reddaways' home, CIA volunteers spent the entire day doing the following – installed a new garage door and automatic opener; built a new wheelchair ramp leading from the attached garage into the house; widened the doorway for the wheelchair; built two raised, wooden platforms for Dick's electric lift recliners; installed a new water heater and furnace-mounted humidifier; cleaned and organized items throughout the house; repaired gutters; cleaned up the flower beds and gardens; repainted patio furniture; repaired some drywall and shelving; and installed handrails in the bathroom.

"I was stunned by the stamina, the kindness and the amount of time they all put in," Peggy said. "They never let up. They just kept pushing onward and onward. They didn't want to leave anything unfinished. They were very dedicated."

The Reddaways' home was selected to be a CIA project because Dick has Huntington's Disease, which requires Peggy to care for him 24/7.

"Peggy's life is taking care of Dick, so anything we can do to help her, to make her life easier, will make his life easier, too," said Oxford resident Colleen Schultz, who served as the site coordinator for the Reddaway project.

"He requires a lot of care, so a lot of my time is spent with him," Peggy said. "It's hard to keep up with all the other things that need to be done around the house."

Peggy said the CIA volunteers did many things she can't do and many things she could do, but doesn't because she simply lacks the time.

"They straightened things up. They put things in boxes. They labeled things. They cleaned corners and windows. It was wonderful. There were some young girls that repainted our patio furniture. They were so diligent. They painted every single piece. It looks like brand new."

"They wanted to make a difference and they did. It lifts a huge burden off of our shoulders and kind of gives us a fresh start," Peggy noted.

Peggy was amazed by the level of community involvement, from local families to local businesses.

"I was so impressed with the families," she said. "Kids came with their parents and worked right along side of them."

She noted how Oxford Overhead Door and Pioneer Door worked together on the new garage door and opener; how Chardonnay donated lunch; and how the Oxford Fire Department brought coffee and doughnuts for the volunteers.

Dick and Peggy wished to express their extreme gratitude to all those who volunteered their time and donated materials to turn their house back into a home.

"I would just like to thank everyone," Peggy said. "This community of Oxford and Orion is like no other place on Earth. If you're going to have any kind of illness or hardship, this is where you want to be because people out here are really, really caring.

"There are so many good people. We just can't thank them enough. They've made our life so much easier, so much more relaxing."

CJ Carnacchio is editor for The Oxford Leader. He lives in the Village of Oxford with his wife Connie and daughter Larissa. When he's not busy working on the newspaper, he enjoys cigars/pipes, Martinis/Scotch, hunting and fishing.
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