Monday, April 26, 2010

Christmas in Action

Homeowner Joyce (left)
Debbie Berry
at Christmas

in Action

Christmas came early to 77-year-old Joyce Taylor of Waterford Township on Saturday. The front lawn of her home looked like an edition of “Extreme Home Makeover.” About one hundred volunteers were scattered in the house and throughout the yard swinging hammers and wielding rakes.

The contents of Joyce’s home were strewn outside underneath a blue tarp while volunteers cleaned appliances and polished wood furniture. Others tore out flooring to replace with new carpet, while still others worked on the kitchen and porches.

Because I lack any real skills, I spent most of my time in the backyard, hauling bricks and other debris up a lumpy hill to a ginourmous dumpster. Then, we trimmed and hauled brush and tree limbs to a truck to be dumped offsite. I have never seen a yard transform so quickly. What was once an overgrown jungle, was a pruned lawn, with lush lilac trees, and new shrubbery.

Volunteers worked from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. I only stayed until 1:30 and was exhausted by the end. But it was a good exhaustion, knowing that Joyce’s home would be renovated.

Though the home was small, the multitude of volunteers was well coordinated by Christmas in Action. I never felt like there was a lack of work. And when I was done with outside tasks, I moved to the basement. There, I cut insulation to be packed between joists.

Part of the reason things ran so smoothly was because of Debbie Berry. She has been volunteering with Christmas in Action for twelve years and is a site coordinator. Although active in her community, Christmas in Action seems to have a soft spot for her.

“Everyone is going to be a senior some day,” Debbie said. “Seniors run out of resources. They run out of money. Their homes become dangerous places.”

So Debbie makes sure that these seniors have someone to take care of them.

“It’s an expression of love,” she said. “We have to take care of our seniors.”

And indeed, many seemed to feel the same way, volunteering their services. ImageSoft, Inc. in Southfield sent about 45 people out to help. Young couples worked alongside seniors. It was a community effort, and it was amazing.

One young man interning for ImageSoft, Inc. had recently returned from helping with volunteer efforts in Haiti. It seems volunteering is contagious.

To find out more about Christmas in Action’s home renovation efforts and to view pictures, check out Wednesday’s blog.


  1. Wow.
    Thanks for the personal feel of it. For your experience and for Joyce and the seniors she represents for all of us.

  2. I can testify that Valerie was there and working hard! I saw her hefting giant branches into the dumpster with all the finesse of a seasoned pro. I can also testify to the awesome work of Debbie Berry to making that house - one of 13 houses in Waterford, Troy, Clarkston, Pontiac and Detroit, that Christmas in Action worked on as part of their 2010 WorkDay - a complete success. Working in concert with the House Captain, who defines the scope of work to be done on the low-income senior's house, the Site Coordinator's job - Debbie's job, is to see that the Captain has the volunteers to do the work he wants. She did a great job.

    I also just want to put a shout out there to groups like Image Soft, Inc., of Southfield and Lifepoint Christian Center of Waterford (to just name two groups one of the many houses) for stepping forward and organizing two fantastic volunteer teams!! Thank you for showing us that we can think of and give to others even in difficult times!