Volunteering – Lending a Helping Hand

volunteering at ccnh's hand-in-hand program

A notice in the St. Rose of Lima Parish bulletin announcing the Hand-in-Hand Program in Littleton caught her eye. The Catholic Charities New Hampshire program connects students and other volunteers with elderly, disabled or low-income homeowners who need help with minor repairs and yard work.

“I never wanted to apply because I thought there were other people who needed it more,” said Lucille, who is 73. “But I just had knee surgery and needed the help really bad.”

“I was so pleased with what the students did for me and realized how much this program helps people.”

Lucille Gherardi kept up her yard and maintained her home. Then she had knee surgery last year, and the yard work and home repairs started to pile up.

Soon, a group of Littleton High School student volunteers were at her door. They painted her deck, cleared brush, planted flowers, and raked and mulched her yard.

They also built her a fire pit, something Lucille always wanted, but wouldn’t think of asking for since other items that needed attention.

“It was such a surprise. I was not expecting that,” she explained.

Inspired by their care and kindness, Lucille decided to pay it forward and volunteered for this year’s Hand-in-Hand Program.

“I was so pleased with what the students did for me and realized how much this program helps people,” she explained.

Lucille worked with Christina Bertin, parish and community outreach coordinator at the Littleton district office, to coordinate student volunteers across northern Grafton County.

The Littleton program, now in its sixth year, ran from June 25-30. Hand-in-Hand also operates out of the Laconia district office from spring through fall.

“We try not to tackle any major project,” Bertin explained. “We want to keep them within the capabilities of the students.”

A site leader, who is usually a retired or semi-retired volunteer with experience in basic home repairs, leads each crew. “They love working with the kids,” Bertin said.

Hand-in-Hand strengthens communities and assists neighbors who need a helping hand to keep their homes from falling into disrepair. It helps maintain property values and enables low-income, elderly and disabled homeowners to stay in their homes longer. Volunteers build new relationships and learn the value of helping others.

“I’ve had some students who have been with us three or four summers,” Bertin said. “They know they are doing something worthwhile.”

Lucille Gherardi can attest to that.