For the sixth year, a Wheaton businessman took himself, his coworkers and his tools out into the DuPage community for the National Day of Service on Sept. 11.
Wayne Owczarzak, owner of Mr. Handyman of Wheaton to Hinsdale in West Chicago, joined seven other employees to help out the Smyrna Church of God, soon to be known as Community of Hope Church, in Hanover Park.
The National Day of Service was formalized in 2009 as a way for organizations to give back to the community in memory of the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
Owczarzak said Mr. Handyman stores across the country have been participating since the beginning. In that first year, only Owczarzak and another employee of his store participated. Now the day has grown into an annual work outing.
“We keep finding someone who needs help each year and we go ahead and do what we can for them,” he said.
He said each year has been a challenge to find a worthy organization in the service area whose work can be completed in the course of a day by a team of trained professionals. Each year, they call charities across the county to find projects. Previously, they have worked for the Community Housing Advocacy and Development group, and done home repairs for an elderly couple.
This year, the branch found the church. They painted two classrooms and a hallway, installed windows, repaired drywall and repaired damage to the basement, among other projects. Owczarzak said his team didn’t quite polish off all the projects, but finished the major work and got enough of a start to help the church get to an easier-to-manage place.
In all, the eight donated a total of more than 60 hours at the church, with area businesses donating many of the materials used.
Owczarzak said his employees always seem eager to participate each year, jumping at the opportunity regardless of the work or location. It has helped his business, too, he said – many customers have directly told him they were patronizing his business because of past service days.
“I think it’s a great way to give back. ... It’s not like you’re doing something for nothing. You’re really helping someone out,” he said. “When you do it, it’s something you can be proud of.”