Hundreds of volunteers spread throughout Ottawa and the surrounding area on Saturday morning for Labor of Love, a 30-year tradition that helps residents in need with home repairs they may not be able to do themselves.
Labor of Love added 25 new homes to it’s nearly 30-year total of 918, continuing it’s tradition of making lives easier for those in need.
“It’s awesome to see the smile on homeowners’ faces when they’re getting something done to their house that keeps them warm, safe and dry,” said Brian Lacke. “You know, it’s a sense of accomplishment and it keeps the community happy and safe.”
Lacke has been working with Labor of Love for the majority of his life, starting as a child 29 years ago with his father, Jim.
The Lackes worked on cleaning up the yard and the outside of the house for Michelle Manley’s mother. This included repairing the front steps.
“It’s been a blessing as much as my mother probably wouldn’t have wanted it,” Manley said. “She knows she deserves it, though, and we appreciate everything that everybody’s put into this and I’m sure every other homeowner feels the same.”
Tom Greene said his home, which was worked on by a team captained by Ian Paxton, had a bunch of issues that he can’t get to anymore because of his disabilities. Greene called the work life changing.
Paxton, an Ottawa resident originally from the United Kingdom, said this is the kind of work he feels called to do. He’s been working with Labor of Love for four years, being a captain for his last two.
“I’ve been a Christian for a long time,” Paxton said. “First, God called me to work in Romania, so I was a missionary there and lived there for ten years. Then God called me here and it’s just natural to me.”
Paul Funsfinn, a member of Paxton’s team, said they were helping put up new gutters, install a storm door and install new windows on Greene’s home.
A team led by Jeff Brodbeck from Morris Hospital went to work making Carmen Kirgan’s home a much safer place, replacing and adding new joists around the bottom of Kirgan’s porch to ensure it wouldn’t collapse.
Brodbeck’s team also went to work spreading tar to seal in the roof and fixed the overhang above the front door.
“You wouldn’t believe how helpful it is,” Kirgan said. “I’m so glad. My son fell off the roof and can’t help me; and my sister tried finding me someone and it’s just hard to anyone who will do the work. So, I turned to Labor of Love and I’m so thankful they’re all here. Bless their hearts.”
It’s awesome to see the smile on homeowners’ faces when they’re getting something done to their house that keeps them warm, safe and dry. You know, it’s a sense of accomplishment and it keeps the community happy and safe.”— Brian Lacke
Kirgan said it’s hard getting to this sort of work while living alone.
Brodbeck said he’s been working with Labor of Love for 18 years, 16 of which have been as a house captain.
Labor of Love was started by United Way organizer Shelli Ocepek, who spoke to the house captains and volunteers before they dispersed to their assigned homes. There, she was surprised with a $15,000 donation from the family of late Labor of Love volunteer Mike “Crash” Pearson.
Ocepek said the work on a home in Sheridan that was in heavy need was dedicated as the Mike Pearson house, with repairs made in his memory.
Constellation Energy, formerly ComEd, also donated $18,000 to celebrate it’s 20th year as Labor of Love’s signature sponsor.