Thomas H Gray was born in Island Creek in 1922 and has lived his whole life in Calvert County, except for his service in the Army. He served from January 15, 1943 until his discharge on disability on July 9, 1945. While confined to a hospital for three months, he told the Army he wanted to be reunited with his unit upon discharge and they told him he was going to be sent home. He said he was very
Mr. Gray, a World War II veteran, was the recipient of a Christmas in April*Calvert County house makeover this weekend. His home on Rousby Hall Road was built in 1940 and was known affectionately as the “pink house”. Christmas in April*Calvert County undertook major repairs on the Lusby home during a special two-day project Friday, April 10, Saturday, April 11, and finishing touches on Sunday April 12.
Mr. Gray, who will be 94 on June 22 and a widower, lives with his son Dennis Gray, who is his caregiver. Dennis is retired from a career in law enforcement that includes
working with the Maryland State Police, Federal Bureau of Investigation and U.S. Department of Defense. He retired from construction work to move back to Calvert County to be with his father.
The special project, which took place two weeks prior to the annual nationwide event, was intended to reintroduce Calvert County to Christmas in April and the many rewards that come with helping neighbors in need. Work included repairing the roof, replacing several windows and a door, better lighting, replacing floors, interior and exterior painting, bathroom modifications to improve access, plumbing repairs, landscaping and general cleanup.
On Friday, April 10th, over 100 volunteers assembled at the property to begin demolition. They moved quickly and were able to replace the main roof the same day. The porch roof needed a major overhaul so it was still a work in progress. A crew worked on painting the house white from its landmark pink.
Saturday came and the volunteers were back hard at work. Men, women and young people all pitching in to help with the painting, cleaning, raking, mulching and whatever else needed to be done. Craftsman were busy cutting lumber and putting in the new windows. Everyone scurrying in and out, getting the work done. Lunchtime came and there was a bountiful BBQ for everyone to enjoy. John Lee was the Chef, who is also a member of the Board of Directors, from Prince Frederick Dodge. John is also the owner of Artic Snow Management. All of the food and drink was donated by Dominion Cove Point and Exelon.
A few projects were not completed by the end of day 2 and a crew would come back on Sunday and put the finishing touches on everything. Bill Lloyd, President of Christmas in April*Calvert County said there were going to be 43 houses this year for April 25th and this one they are doing now plus the Lusby home behind the American Legion in Lusby they did in December and January. He remarked that he has been with the program for 15 years and 98% of the money raised goes to the projects and there is no paid staff.
Christmas in April*Calvert County, Inc. is a United Way Member Agency, which helps disabled and elderly homeowners, and families with children, who live in and own their house and cannot afford to pay for home repairs. Christmas in April works all year to repair 25 houses on the last Saturday of April. Some emergency repairs and follow-up work are done throughout the year.
Christmas in April*Calvert County, Inc. has repaired at least 25 homes per year since 1991. We work all year to get ready for that special day. Once a home is referred, a home visit is made by the house selection committee. A determination is made whether the house meets the eligibility criteria and can be repaired by Christmas in April. By January the houses are selected, and volunteers are matched with work requirements on each house. Our volunteers include licensed carpenters, plumbers, and electricians, but the majority of people, who are not housing experts, work under the supervision of a house captain; as a handyman, painting, cleaning, and/or doing yard work because they want to make a difference.
All the work is done to provide a safer home. We replace windows, doors, heating systems, and add insulation. We build ramps for the disabled. We insulate and replace windows and doors, including storm doors. We rebuild entrances, decks, stairs, bathroom and kitchen floors, replace joists, repair plumbing, repair roofs, and help with the replacement of septic systems. We paint the inside and outside of houses. Because of the extent of work and the funds available, some houses require work over several years.
Calvert County Commissioner Tom Hejl, President of United Way Board of Directors, said “Volunteerism is the engine that makes this country great and seeing the volunteers from Christmas in April just reaffirms that concept. The energy, passion and commitment these volunteers display is remarkable. What wonderful people they are.”
These businesses and organizations sent volunteers to the site and/or donated materials or large funds to this project:
IET (communications cable company), Exelon, Kiewit, Middle Creek Middle School
students, United Way of Calvert County, Sneade’s Ace Hardware, Floor Systems Inc, Habitat for Humanity, Hilton Garden Inn (donated 2 nights for Mr Gray while the renovations were underway), Artic Snow Management, Prince Frederick Dodge, Cave to Castle, W H Lloyd Construction, Dominion, Calvert County landfill (donated dumpsters) and Brother Johnson’s Porta Potties.
For more information or to make a donation:
Christmas in April*Calvert County
P.O. Box 2761
Prince Fredrick, MD 20678
(410) 535-9044 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Margit Miller / Calvert Beacon