DEBARY | When Carol and George Miller visited Carol’s elderly, widowed aunt in Memphis in 2012, it was the first time they were not greeted with a honey-do list. Her aunt explained, “I had the handyman from the church come.” After some conversation, they learned the service was free. Carol and George looked at one another and had an epiphany. It was the birth of the “Honey-Do Ministry” at their parish of St. Ann in Debary.
St. Ann’s constitutes a mostly elderly population. Many are widowed, retired or over 50 years old. George “Googled Catholic handyman ministry” and researched by calling parishes all over the country to determine how best to establish procedures and protocols for a similar ministry. Gabrielle Golka, director of social ministries and family life, placed an ad in the bulletin asking for. Bill Dempsey was among the first to offer his services. “I wanted to give back to the parish,” he said. “It’s a good feeling when you can help somebody do something. Most jobs are pretty simple – changing air conditioning filters or light bulbs that are beyond reach. I’ve replaced faucets, put up shelves and hung pictures, raked leaves, cleaned gutters and trimmed an orange tree for a lady.”
Volunteers do “simple little things,” said Carol. “It has just been wonderful. The real challenge is trying to get people to ask for help. Nobody wants to ask for anything. They don’t feel like they deserve to have it done for nothing,” she says. Yet the reality is that most cannot afford to pay someone.
With family members living far away, many are isolated. Carmen May is a parishioner and client who lives alone with her three dogs. She ordered a cabinet online thinking it would arrive assembled. “It was so heavy, I couldn’t even carry it into the house. I thought, what am I going to do?” She called Carol who immediately responded, “Our guys can do it.” May notes, “They did a beautiful job and it’s probably the prettiest thing in my living room.”
May is 74 years old. Although her daughter and husband live fairly close, both work and are raising two teens. “It’s hard for me to ask my son-in-law, who works six days a week, to come on a Sunday when I know it’s their day for their family to be together. But I know that there are people in my parish that are more than willing to do these things. It fills me with great pride to know that they are.” May adds, “It gives me a sense of security that if something goes wrong, I have someone to call and they will be there.” All it takes is filling out a form and Carol and Golka find the right volunteer for the job.
George says he speaks for all the volunteers when he says, “A big part of the service is the companionship and the emotional and spiritual lift they give to the people they are serving. Honey-Do is not just changing a bulb, but maybe the client/customer can use a little companionship – a hello or a smile. Part of the qualifications for who Carol and Gabrielle (Golka) choose to do this ministry is that they are good people, not just a good handyman.” Carol chimes in, “We are just grateful to be able to give back. That is what my faith is all about.”
Since January 2013, the Honey-Do Ministry has helped almost 250 people.
By Glenda Meekins of the Florida Catholic – July 1, 2019