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We all win with Neighbors Helping Neighbors

In a time of turmoil, economic confusion and governmental stagnation, it should be considered a godsend that people are still willing to get out and help those who live nearby.

Even when it rains.

That was the case Saturday in both Lake Oswego and West Linn when almost 500 volunteers braved the weather and took the time to pay something back to fellow residents by participating in the outstanding Neighbors Helping Neighbors program. See the story on the Lake Oswego event on page A3.

The community cleanup event helps local residents who are elderly or have limited mobility to clean up their yards.

To all who participated, we say, 'Thank you. And God bless.'

Consider some of the numbers:

n In Lake Oswego, 135 volunteers worked on 26 yards.

n In West Linn, a staggering 350 volunteers assisted on 29 yards.

n Allied Waste in Lake Oswego and West Linn Refuse and Recycling in West Linn each provided a fleet of trucks to haul away hundreds and hundreds of cubic yards of debris.

n A special tip of the hat to the hundreds of parishioners from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints who turned out in both communities to volunteer.

Neighbors Helping Neighbors was started in Lake Oswego five years ago by Dawn D'Haeze. She and her husband, Kevin, recently moved to California but she returned last week to oversee her final Neighbors Helping Neighbors event in Lake Oswego. She was also instrumental in building the program to its current level in West Linn.

'This is a program about giving without getting in return,' she said.

The heartfelt gratitude by those receiving help was something to behold.

'It's priceless,' one recipient said. 'It's better than winning the lottery. I cried Saturday night.'

And on the flip side, the appreciation of doing for others and seeing real needs fulfilled proved very therapeutic.

'All these really great bonds are being formed,' Bridget Saladino, city project coordinator for West Linn, said. 'The idea is you really are helping your neighbor.'

Indeed, if you are looking - perhaps aching - for a feel-good, win-win story, this is it: People need help, other people organize and provide help, businesses recognize the need and chip in, church groups live up to their credos and participate, and very little government money is spent in the process.

Again, we thank the participants and wish D'Haeze well in her new home. We will end with her words:

'As we move forward and I depart, I want to make sure our spirit remains pure. I hope we keep our heart in Neighbors Helping Neighbors.'