On September 26, 2015, 53 volunteers came together to help 10 homeowners in need in Lombard, Villa Park and Elmhurst. The volunteers were our own members and their family and friends, members of the participating churches Calvary United Methodist and Community Congregational Church in Villa Park, and other members of the community.
The idea of Love Your Neighbor Day grew out of the desire of the members of the Christian Church of Villa Park to open their church doors and move out into the community to serve God. The full vision of Love Your Neighbor Day only became a reality with God’s help and volunteers and financial contributions from our own congregation and other congregations and organizations in the community.
Those who we helped were homeowners who had not been able to keep up with maintenance and repairs on their homes because of physical or financial limitations or both. They came to us through our food pantry, as referrals from the York Township Senior Center, or from seeing Love Your Neighbor Day publicized in the community.
With the funds that we received from our own Open Your Doors Campaign, our Regional church, individual contributions of our members and friends, a special offering collected at Calvary United Methodist Church, and contributions from the Friends of York Township and the Villa Park Senior Concerns Commission, we had enough funds to cover all of the materials and supplies for the work that was done and to provide food and drink to our volunteers throughout the day.
With God’s help, so much was accomplished for our homeowners in just one day. Even before the actual day, a furnace that had not worked since March was repaired by a furnace repairman donating his time and Love Your Neighbor Day covering the cost of parts. On Love Your Neighbor Day, God gave us a beautiful warm and sunny day so that lots of yard work and exterior work could get done.
THE WORK DONE. Yard work completed included cutting down a tree, trimming trees, trimming bushes, cutting down overgrown buckthorn, and weeding. Several piles of debris (including an entire shed) and brush were removed from yards and brought back to a construction dumpster we had at church. On the exterior of homes, siding was cleaned, gutters were cleaned out, a window frame was rebuilt, screen doors were replaced, front cement steps were repaired to look brand new, front wooden stairs were rebuilt, doors, windows, and garage doors were painted, a window screen was replaced, a door lock replaced, a downspout repaired, and weather stripping was replaced on an exterior door. Inside, the walls and ceilings of a living room and dining room were painted. And all of the volunteers at home sites and the homeowners received a great box lunch and extra goodies put together by volunteers back at the church. Some volunteers didn’t stop at the end of Love Your Neighbor Day and did some follow up work later that week.
THE HOMEOWNERS . The homeowners were very appreciative. There were hugs and tears and many thank yous. Some talked about the help they received as being an answer to prayers. Here are a couple of lines from notes received from homeowners:
“You were an answer to my prayer. I was restored some Joy & Hope in my life by your kindness. Thank you for walking the talk of Jesus.”
“The whole team seemed to enjoy what was done to perfection. Not only was the day enjoyed by me, but I hope my effort was helpful. There was a feeling of “full steam ahead” by all the group. It was indescribable and so admired! I thank you all and include all in my prayers. With infinite levels of gratefulness and appreciation.”
THE VOLUNTEERS . The volunteers came to serve God by helping their neighbors and came away knowing how rewarding such service can be. Here are a few comments from our volunteers after completing their day of work.
Bill from Calvary United Methodist : “Wanted to say thank you for the opportunity to serve with you and all of the others on Love Your Neighbor Day. It was a blessing to be able help the Nieves family. Look forward to serving with you and all of the members of the Christian Church of Villa Park.”
Lori from the community: “On behalf of Jenny, Justine, Corey & myself, we just wanted to say thank you for allowing us to be part of such an amazing mission today. We all had such a wonderful experience & truly enjoyed working with such incredible people. Irene was such a fabulous woman & we all feel so grateful for being able to assist her with the projects she needed help with. Thank you so much again & God bless!”
Ron from the community : “So today was awesome. So much love today from everyone. I really feel blessed for being chosen to be part of this team.”
Greg from CCVP : “Last weekend we joined together as a church to help those in need in what we called "Love your neighbor day". I would like to thank to the committee members for their work in organizing that event; for I was truly blessed to have taken part in it. Seeing people thankful and grateful to the point of tears brought a true sense of joy to my heart. ‘Our hands, Gods work’ I believe was the motto. My prayers that evening expressed a ‘thank you God’ that I had the ability and opportunity to serve others.”
This was our first Love Your Neighbor Day. Our second was held on Saturday, September 24, 2016. (see report following photos)