As the Labor of Love volunteers changed the carpeting in Roy and Denise Lirette’s home, the couple looked on with immense gratitude.
“This project is wonderful,” Denise said in tears. “It’s very awesome they have people who can come out and do for people who can’t do anything anymore.”
The two are both disabled, relying on walkers and scooters to get around their double-wide mobile home in Luling. The old carpeting had started fraying and becoming entangled in the walkers, which posed safety issues for people already contending with health issues.
Roy has had a heart attack, a prosthetic leg and a knee replacement that left him with a walker. Denise needs two knee replacements, but the doctors don’t want to do the procedures now.
“These guys are awesome,” she said. “If they see something that’s needed, they try to make it very safe for you. That’s good security, especially for me and my husband.”
Improved access is boosting their spirits, too.
“There are just not enough ‘Thank yous,’” Denise said.
In their living room laying down the carpeting were volunteers Dave Caraway, Ben Gio and Bobby Kelly. They are members of St. Charles Borromeo Catholic Church’s Labor of Love ministry, also in Luling, which works in partnership with the St. Charles Parish Department of Community Services’ Health and Safety Program.
Department Director Joan Diaz called the ministry “a tremendous resource to our department, providing much needed skilled labor to our challenging home repair projects. The dedicated volunteers from the Labor of Love team exhibit the works of mercy in their daily commitment to working in partnership with us to serve the needs of their community.”
This project is Caraway’s first fulltime project with Labor of Love, and he’s already found the work rewarding.
“I just want to help people,” he said. “If you can give to someone, you need to do that.”
Gio and Kelly are both retired. Caraway, who owns businesses, has the flexible hours to help, which fits his career that began as a police officer in Jefferson Parish, followed through his work in human resources and then as a business owner.
“I have always thought there is more for me to do than what I’m currently doing,” Caraway said of his sense of philanthropy that he credits to his parents. “I have some big dreams of helping others.”
Courtney Saucier, Community Services’ housing rehabilitation specialist, praised Labor of Love as the kind of assistance that helps others, but also lets her program help more people in need.
Saucier said her program, with help from Labor of Love, helped 46 residents last year. They have four projects underway.
“They just want to give back,” she said of the volunteers. “They’re doing a wonderful job reaching out and helping the needy in our community.”