HomeFront gives Milford family special gift

MILFORD — For 25 years, volunteers from Saint Raphael Parish in Milford have teamed up with HomeFront to help families fix their homes.

This year, HomeFront and Saint Raphael Parish continued their partnership and helped Pasquale and Sally Onofrio of Milford revitalize their home.

Sean O'Brien, spokesperson for HomeFront, said the family has confronted difficult health issues and needed help for home repair.

“The home repair helpers rectified safety corners, such as the front and back porches and railings,” he said. “Newly installed roof caps will reduce the risk of leaks with the heavy rains that have become more frequent. The hardworking neighbors also repaired ceilings and tackled a full exterior scrape and paint project.”

The home repair took place on the 20th anniversary of Sept. 11, and, according to O’Brien, the volunteers revitalized the home of a deserving family at no cost to the recipients. And even though volunteers were helping out a family in need, they still were COVID safe, O’Brien added.

“HomeFront provided N-95 dust masks, rubber gloves, goggles and hand sanitizes for all participating volunteers,” said O'Brien. “A special grant from the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving underwrote all of the personal protective equipment.”

HomeFront, like many non-profits, had to cancel a lot of its plans due to COVID. HomeFront Board Chair Kenneth Wiegand said it affected everyone, but especially low-income families. That is why HomeFront decided to start their Safer at Home campaign, he said, which aims to improve the living condition for 60 local families this year who were directly, or indirectly impacted by the pandemic.

“Stay Home, Stay Safe has been a familiar directive for all of us, but it has a slightly different meaning for the low-income families whose very homes are in hazardous, unhealthy shape,’ said Wiegand. “Our ‘Safe at Home’ commitment means bringing relief to those hurt by the first wave of this pandemic and improving the homes of those most at risk for future outbreaks. Our volunteers and supporters are helping us to keep this health crisis from becoming a housing crisis, as well.”

The approach to volunteer home repair is the second installment of HomeFront’s Safer at Home campaign, said O’Brien. Since March 27, local families have received essential construction aid from HomeFront through its Critical Pro Repair initiative. Skilled HomeFront staff have teamed up with one or two pro volunteers to deliver crucial exterior repairs, such as wheelchair ramp installations, step and walkway overhauls and deck repairs to struggling families.

Thanks to Home Depot Foundation donations, O’Brien said four large-scale projects benefited local veterans. The collective compassion of hands-on volunteers, product contributors, foundation and other donors brings HomeFront to the mark of more than 3,000 homes revitalized in program history, delivering $50 million of service where needed most.