We had the opportunity to volunteer with Neighborlink Fort Wayne earlier this year in week 6 of our project. We were very impressed with the organization and its mission of “practical, neighbor to neighbor expressions of God’s love.” This mission is simple, but yet so powerful. Helping a neighbor who has a need is what Impact 52 is all about. It is about taking time to learn about others and then investing time to impact his or her life in some positive way. After our experience, we wanted to find more ways to help get involved with Neighborlink. Erica started helping with some operational and administrative duties which included answering incoming calls. These calls are individuals with a need requesting a project or checking the status of a project.
Erica received a call from an eighty-one year old man named Nick. He was a friend and an advocate for a disabled Native American, Gary. Gary received a city code violation with a date of November 10th to rectify the citation. Nick only called to receive assistance with the house scraping and painting, since he didn’t think he should be climbing a ladder at his age. The project was entered into the database and for view by all that visit the NeighborLink site to view volunteer opportunities. Nick continued to follow-up with Erica on the status of Gary’s project and to re-emphasize the importance of getting the project done prior to its deadline and the weather turning. Time was running out and Nick reminded “Mrs. Brown,” as he called her, on a regular basis. Erica heard God speaking to her to take this project. She kept toying with the notion. Nick did say it was a small house, not very much scraping and it wouldn’t take long at all. Nick called again, but this time Erica told him she was working with her husband to rearrange their weekend schedule to go out and start on Gary’s project. “Bless you Mr. Brown and Mrs. Brown,” is what he said.
Day One: A Family of Four
We arrived at the house on a Sunday morning. Upon arrival, it was obvious why we were there. The 1.5 story house was in bad shape. Paint was chipping off in large chunks and the siding on the home was rotten in spots. The garage was being held up with chains and clamps and there was a large hole in the side. We looked at each other as to say “what did we get our self into?” It was only the four of us and this project was going to take some time. We rolled our sleeves up, grabbed our scrapers, and got to work. We made great progress that first day. The girls were a great help. We learned that each girl has a painting niche. MaKenna, with her destructive tendencies, is great at scraping. Kelsi, on the other hand, is a good painter. All four of us worked hard on that day. After about 8 hours, we decided to call it quits and plan another day.
Day Two: Helpful Friends
We were blessed to have help on day two of the project. Both of our girls had friends came to assist which was a great picture of mobilizing youth to serve. Six thirteen and ten-year old girls who gave up their Saturday to scrape and paint a stranger’s house was an amazing site to see. We also had other friends join us in addition to volunteers who support Neighborlink give us a hand. We are so thankful for great family, friends, and great community volunteers that are willing to invest time in the life of others. It was another day of great progress. The garage had been repaired with new wood and the sides scraped. The house scraping was complete and the sides of the house were painted. I have written many times that we all must get comfortable being uncomfortable. This day gave me another opportunity to do just that. I have never been too fond of ladders, especially old wooden extension ladders. In order to paint the top peak of the house, I had to put aside and climb. It was something I had no problem doing because I needed to do it for Gary.
Day Three: A Cold Day on a Ladder
I took a Friday off of work to paint at Gary’s. I hoped to get started early, but was unable to because of freezing temperatures. I had to wait a few hours for it to warm up before pouring the paint. I arrived at the house around 10am. It was only about 35 degrees and the wind was howling. I knew it was going to be a cold day on the ladder. I was at the house alone so I relied on my Ipod to keep me company and entertained. I enjoyed some Smashing Pumpkins and Rolling Stones as I spent the day on the ladder painting the upper parts of the house. I made great progress on the house that day. Four sides of the house were now complete. The challenge that I knew we were going to face moving forward was the weather. There are two sides of the house and the garage left to paint. Will mother nature cooperate with us and allow the project to be completed? Time will tell.
Day Four: Thank You Mother Nature
Sixty degrees on the day after Thanksgiving? Really? Mother Nature definitely cooperated giving me a chance to paint some more. After work, I went over to the house. There were many other things that I would have rather done that day, but I am committed to getting this project done for Gary. I spent the day attacking the largest side of the house that had not been painted. Unfortunately, there were sections of this side that needed some extra scraping. I worked until I ran out of daylight on this day. It was another productive day, but I did not get it all done. The project continues.
It has been a month since we stepped foot on Gary’s lawn. With the demands of life, work, family, and other volunteer projects, we cannot spend many days there each week. We are getting close to finishing the project and we hope that we have enough nice days over the next few weeks to complete it. This project has been tough. We are tired after spending the day scraping and painting. It has taken a lot longer than we had planned with almost 30 hours of time invested in it. None of this matters. We do not regret taking on this project. We are blessed to have the health and ability to help a neighbor in need. It does not matter how many more days or hours it takes, we will complete this project. That is what Impact 52 is about. That is why we do it.