(Note - the following article was published on the Oregon150 website in October of 2008)
When “Christmas In July” began early in 2006 in Reedsport, Oregon, the two Reedsport residents who began the project, Pastor Tammy Stampfli and Stan Bates of the United Presbyterian Church, were surprised and gratified at the positive reaction from the community.Their Mission Statement reads as follows:
“Our mission is to preserve and revitalize houses in our community, assuring that low income homeowners from elderly and disabled to needy families with children, live in warmth and safety. In partnership with the community, our aim is to make a sustainable impact.”
The group makes this impact by providing necessary repairs free of charge to homeowners in the above categories. The repairs often include roofing, plumbing, deck repairs and other needed improvements. It continues their goal to provide a warm, safe and dry environment for low income homeowners, helping them to live independently and with dignity.
A steering committee has been recruited from individuals, service clubs, churches and other service organizations. In the initial year, on the selected July day designated for the repairs to take place, some 60 volunteers (after a sturdy breakfast in the Presbyterian Church) were dispersed with their tools to work on some 15 houses. Taking a break later in the day, the parish at St. John’s Catholic Church served a lunch after which the tasks continued.
Each year the program has increased in scope and efficiency, more homes were repaired in 2007 and in 2008 with larger numbers of volunteers and supporters. The continued success of the program is largely due to the flexibility in opening the leadership posts to members of the community at large.
Pastor Allen Chaney of the Church Of God has acted as chairman for the past two years and has opened his church for meetings as well as the assembly point on the work day with his church responsible for the hearty breakfast. Bill Otis has served in the capacity of co-chair both years. Charlie Gardner of St. John’s Catholic Church was instrumental in providing his parish’s continued support for the third year, and has filled in to conduct meetings when required.
So now for three consecutive years this small town on the Oregon Coast, with an economy hurt by the recent closure of the International Paper Mill, the largest employer in the area, has built up a unique tradition of reaching out to those without the resources and ability needed to repair basic problems on their homes.
The program will continue in 2009 and hopefully for many years to come.
Joe Coyne, Winchester Bay, OR