Neighbors help neighbors with senior yard cleanup
EVERETT — JoAnn Reich, a senior living in the Riverside Neighborhood, used to take care of her yard mostly by herself. But last spring, she had an ailment that made it difficult for her to work out in her sloped yard.
“It got a little weedy,” she recalls.
That’s when she got a postcard in the mail advertising the Riverside Neighborhood’s Senior Yard Care program, where Riverside volunteers spend an afternoon cleaning up yards for seniors living in their area. At first she hesitated to ask for help, but then decided to go for it.
A team of about 20 neighborhood volunteers came to her house one afternoon that fall with their own yard work equipment to weed, prune bushes, edge and mow her yard.
“They even brought their own snacks,” Reich said. “Then everybody visited with me. It was nice.”
The senior yard care project had been around for years before it took a brief hiatus. Linden Kimbrough, co-chair of the Riverside Neighborhood Association, volunteered to start the project’s reformation three years ago. The next yard care event is May 17.
“I brought it up that it would be so nice if we could help seniors in our neighborhood who didn’t have the resources or family that would help keep up their lawns and flowerbeds,” Kimbrough said. “We were in agreement that we really needed to do that again.”
Kimbrough recently stepped down from heading up the Senior Yard Care program to tackle other neighborhood endeavors. In February, Don and Marcela Ewert took over the program. Marcela had recently moved to Riverside and sought a way to connect with the neighborhood.
“I wanted the connection but I also liked gardening and it seemed like a good idea to help neighbors in need,” Marcela Ewert said. “This program helps the person that is in need of yard care but it also helps connect people and keep the neighborhood looking good.”
The group can usually do one or two yards in one day, and they typically work one day in the spring and may work an additional day in the fall.
“We have to be able to do a good job with the amount of volunteers we have, so we’re not able to do everybody,” Kimbrough said.
The next event day is Saturday, May 17 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Reich’s backyard is among the yards slated for cleanup that day. Last fall, the volunteers worked primarily on her front yard and did not get as much work in the backyard as they were hoping.
Reich did not request the help this spring, but when she received a call asking if she would like the volunteers to come back, she did not hesitate to say yes.
“I figured boy, I had my turn, and I was so grateful,” she said. “I was overwhelmed. I cried.”
The pain in her leg makes it difficult for her to get into the yard and despite the work done in the fall, spring weeds are beginning to pop up in her yard. She is happy to let the volunteers return to her yard if they are going to offer their services to her.
“It really feels they have pride in the neighborhood,” Reich said of the volunteers. “I am just really grateful. It costs a lot to have someone come and do what they did and I couldn’t afford it otherwise.”
People interested in volunteering should email the Riverside Neighborhood Association at RiversideNeighborhood@yahoo.com and ask to reach Don or Marcela Ewert.