By Joan F. Simoneau, Community Reporter
Marlborough/Hudson – For the past five years, hundreds of volunteers have joined together to serve people in the Marlborough-Hudson area who are in need of a variety of services – yard work, handyman work, household moves, cooking or light housekeeping. They gather at Grace Baptist Church, 353 River St. in Hudson at 8:30 a.m. the second Saturday of each month, choose a project – indoor or outdoor – pick up tools if needed, and off they go.
Benefactors are not only the recipients of services but the givers, many of whom have been participating for several years.
Paul Hale has been a faithful volunteer for almost five years. When the Baptist Church started the program, he got into his pickup truck and started hauling furniture – giveaways to residents who needed anything free, clean and useable.
“More recently my Second Saturday focus has been helping a 64-person community of people at 397 Bolton St. We clean windows, move things, paint railings and anything else that the Marlborough Community Development Authority allows us to do,” he said. “The people appreciate our help. It is a lot of fun.”
“The leaders of Second Saturday always encourage us to take our time when providing the service,” Hale added. “The goal is not to simply help with the task, but to love the person. I have been absolutely blown away by how fulfilling this experience has been when I have the right heart. People need to be valued, but most importantly, they need to know that God loves them and so do I.”
A volunteer for four years, Tina Nolin started helping out by preparing meals at the church for distribution at area shelters. More than 300 dinners are made a month, some served directly to hungry individuals and some are frozen for future distribution. She eventually began to provide light housework in the homes of sick individuals and seniors who were unable to move around easily and who welcomed the helping hands and pleasant smile she brought to their homes.
“I have helped several going from a shelter to independent living,” she said. “They are so grateful and eager to make it on their own and are amazed when you hang a shelf or help in any way that makes the move easier,” Nolin said. “Second Saturday became a high point in my life. Some of us help needy families on a weekly basis. I am so pleased to be giving back to the community. It makes me more grateful for all I have.”
Reliable and consistently available to the senior community is Barbara McGuire, who keeps in daily contact with seniors and Second Saturday helpers. The Marlborough Council on Aging monthly newsletter carries this message: “Second Saturday – Do you need some minor repairs in your home or some extra helping hands around your home or apartment?” It also states that volunteers can also assist in transitioning from a home or an apartment to an assisted living facility or nursing home.
Second Saturday Director Lynn Faust, of Marlborough, is the person who has been keeping it all together since it began in August 2007, under the direction of the Love in Action ministry leader at Grace Baptist, Garth Johnson, of Shrewsbury. Every Second Saturday offers a new mix of jobs to a different set of volunteers.
“The number of volunteers changes each month, as there are no signups,” Faust said.
“Lately we have sent people to about 12 to 15 sites and there have been about 60 volunteers of all ages and capabilities each month.”
Faust and her team select projects through referrals from community organizations, including charities and health and human services agencies. The Marlborough Department of Public Works is in regular contact with Faust regarding possible projects.
The September list of Second Saturday projects included: household moves in Hudson, Marlborough and Concord, Senior House calls – cleaning, handyman and household work at 240 Main St. housing in Marlborough, led by Barbara McGuire; yard work, including weed and mulch at Spring House shelter, Hudson, led by Bonnie Power; and Bingo with seniors at Christopher Heights, Marlborough, led by Emily Brady. At the church, volunteers were cooking meals for soup kitchens and card making for soldiers and others needing encouragement.
Inquiries may be directed to [email protected]. For more information, visit gracehudson.org.