By Gregg Alexander, Rotary Club of Bozeman Sunrise
For six years now the Bozeman Sunrise Rotary Club (Montana, USA) has provided home repair assistance to local residents through the Bozeman Fix-Up Festival. Giving preference to elderly and disabled homeowners, the Fix-Up Festival strives to provide home improvements to low-income residents that either can’t afford it or are physically unable to complete the work themselves. The impact of this one-day event stretches far beyond just benefits to the homeowners. The Bozeman Fix-Up Festival touches many lives and brings the community together.
Finding Homeowners in Need
The planning is a year round effort starting in January and wrapping up in mid-November. We begin the year by developing a budget and outreach to find applicants. We partner with local non-profits that work with residents to educate and inform as many homeowners that may be in need of assistance. We do require that recipients own their home and fall below the State of Montana’s poverty level.
We publicize the project on the radio, through TV interviews, and social media marketing to drive interested people to our website, where they can fill out an application. Applications are due in April. Once all applications have been received, our committee evaluates the homes and homeowners through interviews, home visits, and income verification. Over the last five years, we have completed almost 60 homes through the Fix-Up Festival.
Funding & Volunteers
While homes are being evaluated, the Fix-Up Festival Committee seeks out businesses and organizations to adopt and sponsor each home. Sponsors must provide a level of funding along with a number of volunteers on Fix-Up Day to complete the work. Over the years we’ve found that sponsors find the Fix-Up Festival very rewarding and a great source of team building.
To make all of this happen in one day, it takes many dedicated volunteers. Each project has to be detailed out, a list of materials created and delivered, skilled laborers assigned to work with sponsor teams, meals secured, trash and debris removal planned, material runners assigned for additional materials and much more! All of this has to be done for each home, so its large undertaking made possible by lots of volunteer hours from the Rotarians that make up the Fix-Up Festival Committee.
After six years of planning and execution, our operations have become more efficient but it’s still amazing to see the Fix-Up Festival come together in a single day. Walking around and talking with volunteers and homeowners, you realize that the reward isn’t only for the people in need, but also for everyone involved. The day is filled with smiles, hugs, tears of joy, pride and humility and shared as a community. The day reminds us all that we are all in this together and it is our duty to place Service Above Self.