BERLIN - Linda Fritz looked around her Grove Hill Street yard Saturday morning and couldn’t believe what she was seeing.
Over the sounds of hammers, hedge trimmers, chainsaws and electric sanders, Fritz sidestepped volunteers who had come out to present her with the ultimate spring cleanup.
“It’s just awesome and so unbelievable,” said Fritz, watching a group of teenagers haul a tarp full of dead leaves and debris to a dumpster parked in her driveway. “I just love it. I haven’t seen so much ground in a long time.”
The crew of more than two dozen volunteers donned work gloves, grabbed trash bags and began organizing around 7:30 a.m., according to Joan Baker, volunteer liaison for the project. Parishioners of local churches, including St. Paul, Sacred Heart and Bethany Covenant, joined students and the faculty adviser of the Berlin High School Robotics Team to tend to overgrown bushes, brush and minor plumbing and electrical repairs.
Across the state, 1,800 volunteers helped fix up 60 houses as part of the 30th annual HomeFront Day, run by Stamford-based HomeFront Inc.
In addition to the Berlin project, area volunteers tackled projects in Newington and Bristol.
Baker said recipients are selected through an application process that reviews eligibility and includes a property inspection and meeting with the homeowner to see how much work can be done during the one day.
Fritz said she had never heard of HomeFront and was thrilled to learn she was selected for the work, something that resulted from the nudging of a friend.
“They’ve just been amazing all the way,” said Fritz.
Baker said the St. Paul team has previously led cleanup work in other areas of town. It was a convenient coincidence that Fritz’s house in just yards north of the church.
Fritz said she grew up in the house that was receiving all the attention on Saturday. She later got married but moved back to the circa-1900 home with her husband after her parents died.
Yard work and upkeep of the land quickly became overwhelming after her husband’s death and she was at a loss as to how to proceed.
“My husband used to take care of everything and there was so much to do,” she said. “This is a wonderful start and a good way for me to learn how to do the little projects. I can’t thank everyone enough.”
Christopher Fortier can be reached at 860-801-5063 or firstname.lastname@example.org.