Patriots Foundation Salutes Sharon 'Do It Yourselfer'
Chris Pedersen has volunteered with Rebuilding Together Boston since 1998.
A self-described "do it yourselfer" from Sharon helps elderly Boston residents stay in their homes.
For 11 years, Chris Pedersen has volunteered for Rebuilding Together Boston, the city chapter of a national organization that "works in partnership with skilled trades people and volunteers to repair and restore homes and non-profit facilities in Boston," according to its website.
This fall, in October, the New England Patriots Charitable Foundation honored Pedersen as its "Patriots Difference Maker of the Week" after "Patriots and Kraft Group employees spent the day landscaping, painting and cleaning the home of Mozelle and Richard, a Marine Corps veteran," in Boston's Jamaica Plain neighborhood, according to the foundation's website.
NFL and Patriots Hall of Famer and Sharon resident Andre Tippett presented Pedersen with an autographed football and an honorary medal, according to the website.
Pedersen says his involvement with Rebuilding Together Boston began after he was hired by Grand Circle Travel in 1997. The firm performs community service projects, and "this was a community service project when I came to the company," he said.
"It was going in and fixing people's homes, and keeping the disabled and the elderly people in the city of Boston in their homes, keep them warm and safe," Pedersen said during an interview last week.
"So, I got involved as a house supervisor, meaning I was in charge of organizing the jobs and tasks at a house for our company. And then the next thing I know, I had the opportunity to go onto the board," where he has served for 11 years.
"I'm a do it yourselfer. So, I've always done projects on my own. It was just an opportunity to use those skills and be able to show others how to do it and then be able to help people in Boston. This organization kind of hit home to me. There's a lot of organizations that you can give money to, and that's nice. But an opportunity to use your sweat equity, and know that you show up and four or five hours later with about 40 or 50 people, you can completely transform a home with new windows, and new cabinets in the kitchen, and new floors, new paint on the walls, and you just see these people who are low income, and you've made their lives completely different. You've changed their lives. That was a great opportunity."
Do you remember the first home that you worked on?
It was a charter school in Boston (in 1998).
We were painting classrooms and re-tiling the floors in the classrooms.
How often does your organization work on these houses?
We do part of the national event. It's the last Saturday in April. That's our national rebuilding day.
And then we do between five and six other homes throughout the year. On a much smaller scale (through Rebuilding Together Boston's "Year Round" program), we'll get maybe one organization, like Fidelity may want to do a community service project. They'll get 25 people from one of their departments, or a couple of departments. We'll find a house. We'll get all the donations of all the product and material, and then we'll set it all up. We'll get a contractor to come in to volunteer their time. And then we coordinate all the material. We have a warehouse. I make sure we get all the paintbrushes and all the stuff that we need, and then they come and they do it.
Do you also work on the house?
Not anymore. Years ago, I did. I've kind of stepped back and tried to do more of the organization.
Has the economy affected your organization's work?
We've seen a lot more people.
We tend to be working with more of the elderly. Most everyone we deal with are people that are in their 70s and 80s. They've been in their home for 40, 50 years. A lot of them are women whose husbands have passed away and they just can't afford to do all these things. And they have big beautiful homes, just gorgeous homes.
The house that we did with the Patriots was (for) a Vietnam veteran. He had fallen on some hard times physically. He had some surgery done. (His wife) also had some surgery done, and their house started falling apart. The veteran organization could give him the hospital time, so he could go over to the VFW in West Roxbury. But he couldn't do the physical stuff on the house anymore.
So, we brought the Patriots in, and their staff, which was the first time it wasn't players or alumni. It was actual staff from the Kraft foundation. And they were actually out there raking and shovelling, putting in new things. They completely redid the kitchen.
You mentioned you're a do it yourselfer. What kinds of projects do you do around the house?
Over the years, I'm doing less and less as I get older. But over the years, I've renovated my bathroom. I've done most of the living room work on the houses that we've owned over the years.
I'm handy with electrical. I can do plumbing. Of course, paint. I work out in the yard.