Rep. Steny Hoyer shows off his 25th anniversary Christmas in April tee shirt presented to him by Executive Director Darene Kleinsorgen and Board Chairman Howard Thompson

There were a lot of smiling homeowners all across Southern Maryland Saturday, April 25 at the conclusion of the annual Christmas in April. The program that was started in Midland, Texas in 1973 spread to Maryland in 1988 with Prince George’s being the first, followed by St. Mary’s and Charles in 1990 and Calvert in 1991. The national headquarters for the program is in Washington, D.C. To date, over 87,450 homes nationwide have been renovated with the help of 2.3 million volunteers, committing to 24 million hours of volunteer time nationwide.

The statistics in St. Mary’s are quite impressive for such a relatively small community. To date 692 homes have been repaired by 39,000 volunteers that would have otherwise cost the homeowners $6.5 million. On Saturday more than a thousand volunteers fanned out all over St. Mary’s County to work on 15 homes and at two non-profit institutions — the St. Mary’s County Fairgrounds and Summerseat Farm.

As he has done often, Rep. Steny Hoyer made stops in St. Mary’s, Charles and Prince George’s counties. Close to his own home, at the Mechanicsville home of Mary Dyson on Yorkshire Lane Hoyer noted that his friend Cap Mona started the Prince George’s Christmas in April 27 years ago, and another friend John Parlett, Jr. started the St. Mary’s event 25 years ago.

Hoyer, as others throughout the day, noted the accomplishments of long-time St. Mary’s executive director Mary Ann Chasen, who died November 1, 2012 at the age of 58 after a battle with cancer. Chasen was remembered at the party after the day’s work with a token of appreciation to her husband Steve.

At the Dyson home in Mechanicsville, Christmas in April board chairman Howard Thompson and Executive Director Darene Kleinsorgen presented Hoyer with a souvenir cap and tee shirt marking the 25th anniversary.

Hoyer visited with homeowner Mary Dyson, who will celebrate her 88th birthday on July 4th. Outside Hoyer said, “the spirit of America is neighbors helping neighbors” as embodied in Christmas in April.

After a day of hard work, all of the volunteers are invited to a dinner at the St. Mary’s County Fairgrounds with food donated by a number of restaurants and community organizations and cooking and serving by the Harry Lundeberg School of Seamanship.

Kleinsorgen and Thompson handed out certificates of appreciation to the area and house captains and others who have contributed to the success of the huge volunteer effort.  One of the house captains, Ken Ritter was honored for assembling 134 volunteer workers for his house on Oregon Way in Lexington Park.

Calvert County’s Christmas in April volunteers undertook over 40 projects, many of which were fairly lengthy and intensive.

The projects, performed by members of various churches, local businesses and organizations in several communities—including Prince Frederick, St. Leonard, Lusby, Huntingtown, Chesapeake Beach, Owings, Port Republic, North Beach, Dunkirk and Sunderland—called for the volunteers to apply a variety of skills.

The crews replaced electrical outlets, repaired a railing and a porch, made a bathroom door wheelchair accessible, completed deck work, replaced kitchen floors, performed tile and sheetrock work, repaired interior walls, installed storm doors, painted a house’s exterior, fixed a leaky roof, and repaired gutters and fireplaces.

A few of Christmas in April Calvert County’s 2015 projects were completed prior to the national day of work. Earlier this month volunteers finished a two-day project, refurbishing the Lusby home of a World War II veteran. Work on a Port Republic home was the organization’s United Way Day of Caring project last September.

Christmas in April Eve was also a workday in Calvert as four projects were conducted and completed that day.