“Dec. 14th — seriously?” was my reply when my husband came home from a Neighbors Helping Neighbors planning meeting and told me the date for leaf cleanup.

I’ll admit to a fair amount of grousing about how it would be cold and the weather likely some form of miserable, never mind that on a Saturday morning that close to Christmas there were surely a zillion other things I should be doing. Apparently I was not alone as fully half of the volunteers who signed up were no-shows.

Saturday morning was indeed miserable — only 38 — and the fog was a thick, sopping gray rag, but magically, everyone’s spirits were high as my family of four was joined by a mom and her preschool-age son and a mom with her two teens and we caravanned to the first of the two homes we were assigned. The homeowner was as delighted and kind as her dog, who happily romped about the team. We made quick work of 20 bags of leaves and headed off to the second home. Together we raked the challenging contours of a typical creek-side home and as our energy started to flag, the homeowner came out of his house and said, “Listen, I just wanted to say how very much we appreciate what you’re all doing here. Thank you.”

We stopped for lunch and while eating, learned that one of the other teams was struggling from the shortage of volunteers and another home didn’t get a team at all because there weren’t enough people. But the homeowner had been promised help — was waiting for us — and it wasn’t right to fail him. My husband and I left our warm house.

A volunteer at the third home exclaimed: “Are you here to help? The cavalry has arrived!” I was glad we were there. Tired and cold, my spirit was flagging when we rolled up to the fourth house. But when my husband told me the homeowner was wheelchair bound and had cancer, my complaints were made petty and my muscles were made strong. Everybody at that fourth house was burning overtime but what joyous volunteers — even the garbage truck drivers grabbed rakes. We finished on a high and nobody was let down.

Do me a favor — when you pay your West Linn Refuse & Recycling bill, whether you helped at NHN or not, include a note of thanks because without the services they donate, NHN would never happen. And if you signed up but didn’t show, realize that every person counts — no-shows create double the work for everyone else. And if you didn’t sign up this year, do it next April and bring your whole family — anyone old enough to stand and young enough to still hold a rake. I promise you that your hearts will be filled as you join with the best of your community to do something truly selfless and take action as an individual or as a family to make this world a better place.

Kris Kachirisky is a West Linn resident.

Contract Publishing

Go to top
Template by JoomlaShine