WILTON — Applications are now being accepted for the 2010 North Parish Housing Ministry program, which performs a variety of tasks at individual homes over the summer, said Code Enforcement Officer Paul Montague.
The mission program, run by Mission at the Eastward, brings teams to homes for a week from all over the Northeast to work on projects in the Franklin County area from June into August, said the Rev. Scott Planting, program director. Groups stay in Farmington and New Portland and work projects are kept within 30 minutes traveling distance to these towns.
Their tasks may include painting, roof repairs, building porches, steps and handicap-access ramps and simple repairs, he said.
Those who receive help may have low incomes, but it is need that determines the priorities.
“Older folks or young families with children, people with no means to do the repairs on their own,” are near the top of the list, Planting said.
The visiting mission groups, many who return year after year, now include a mixture of young people and adults, he said. Groups vary in size, smaller ones have 15 to 20 members while others range up to 50 people and one group brings 90 volunteers.
“One group has returned for 30-consecutive years, it testifies we have a good program,” Planting said.
Seeking to do Christian service, the groups not only volunteer their work but raise funds before coming to pay for their food and housing and are asked to contribute $175 per person for building materials to help with the area projects, he said. All from Presbyterian Churches, many of the groups include members who are electricians, plumbers or professional roofers. Tasks are assigned according to their strengths, he said.
A parish committee reviews the applications throughout April and a coordinator, Steve Brennan, visits the homes to see if the request is within the scope of what they can do, Planting said. Although requests continue into May, the group tries to schedule the summer projects throughout April.
Limited only by cash resources, most requests are done as the groups handle 75 to 100 projects per summer, everything from building new steps to adding a bedroom on to a mobile home for a growing family. Homeowners are asked to contribute toward the cost of materials if they can and some families get small loans or set up a payment plan with the program for the larger projects.
“We’re not competing with local carpenters because the homeowners have no means to get the project done,” he said.
Applications are available at the Wilton Town office, Montague said. They are also left at other town offices, Western Maine Community Action and social services organizations. Mary Jane Reed, administrative assistant at Fairbanks Union Church, offered to mail applications if interested parties call the church at 778-4705.
“There’s a lot of need. I wonder sometimes how people get through the winter with broken windows. We do what we can with the budget and time frame,” she said. With two to three groups a week coming, “they’re capable of doing a lot of work.”