Jubilee Service Day, now in its 14th year. Through partnerships with the Bellevue School District and City of Bellevue, volunteers serve in public schools to assist the staff prepare for the new school year, as well as serve homeowners in the community who need assistance with their homes or yards.
Four years ago, groups of volunteers started to serve homeowners on days other than Jubilee Service Day which is in late August. That momentum has built where such work is now done from March to September, including 31 homeowners already served in 2018.
What happens when a group of 18-24-year-old spends a week helping people in the community who are in their 70’s, 80’s, 90’s and 100+?
A group of summer interns for Essential Church in Bellevue were able to help 12 homeowners. They not only got some wonderful work done, but also created some special memories and trusting relationship.
Here’s a quick rundown of their stories:
Dorothy is an 82-year-old widow and lives near Bellevue College. Her backyard is a rocky hillside which was overgrown with weeds and black berries. The southern wall of her rambler had paint peeling. The crew cleared the hillside, filling a trailer of yard waste, as well as scraped, primed and painted the wall. Dorothy was overjoyed for the help, and share some spirited conversation with the crew all morning.
Keiko is an 80-year-old widow and lives near Phantom Lake. She keeps a nice garden, but there was a lot of work she no longer can do. The crew trimmed many trees & bushes, cut low limbs, pulled out grape vines growing in from the neighbor’s yard and did some weeding. Keiko was surprised to see “so many young people” and shared how she rarely meets people in this age group. When we said goodbye, she was overcome with emotion and cried tears of thankful joy.
Viola is a 101-year-old widow who lives near Phantom Lake with her grown son, Ken, as caregiver. The crew cleaned their roof & gutters, as well as power washed the driveway. The yard received a general cleaning, including the trimming of many bushes, the removal of a dying lilac tree and cutting of low tree branches. Unable to do this work themselves, Ken was very grateful for the help.
Duane is an 82-year-old widower who lives in NE Bellevue. He walks with a cane and can no longer do heavy yard work. The crew cleaned out the entire overgrown back yard, including many blackberries, fallen branches, low limbs and overgrown bushes. The waste filled ½ of a 30 yard dumpster the city provided for disposal. Sitting in a chair for a group picture, Duane was overcome with emotion as he expressed his thanks and appreciation.
Vallija is 92-years-old and lives in NE Bellevue with her daughter. Originally from Latvia, she have a very nice garden but it was overgrown, especially a very large laurel hedge. The crew completely trimmed the hedge, along with many other bushes and trees. Fallen branches and tree debris was raked and cleared. A trailer full of debris was taken down the street to fill the other ½ of the 30 yard dumpster. Vallija expressed how wonderful it was to have young people around.
Roy is a 72-year-old and lives in NE Bellevue. Originally from Iran, he had polio as a child, so walks with a cane. He cannot care for his yard himself. The crew trimmed many bushes, cleaned his roof & gutters, mowed his lawn and raked the yard. Roy expressed sincere appreciate for the assistance of doing what he cannot.
Millie is a 98-year-old widow in NE Bellevue who lives by herself. Her garden is lovely, but there are some things she cannot do herself. The crew removed blackberries growing in from the neighbor’s yard, trimmed a hedge and many bushes, power washed two patios, cleaned flower beds and more. She was clearly tickled to have young people in her home. She opened up about her life experiences and came away inspired to restart the writing of her memoires.
Louanne (Lou) is an 88-year-old widow who has lived in her NE Bellevue house 41 years. She maintains a lovely small garden but needs help with more difficult tasks. The crew cleaned flower beds, trimmed bushes & trees, uncovered stepping stones and cleaned & stained a small wooden bridge over a pond.
Bill and Joan are in their 70’s and live in Lake Hills. Both are dealing with health issues, including recent surgery for Bill. The crew trimmed the bushes and trees in the yard, as well as spread 20+ bags of bark in the flower beds. Both expressed their delight in the crew and appreciation for doing the work they cannot.
Patricia (Pat) is a widow in her 70’s and lives in Lake Hills. She suffered a stroke six years ago, so cannot care for her yard herself. The crew trimmed and mowed the front & back yards. The back yard had many blackberries and overgrown bushes, all of which were cut way back. Pat was so happy to have her roses stand out instead of the tall grass and weeds.
Judy & Elliott are in their mid-80’s and live in Lake Hills. Both suffer from Alzheimer’s, so their daughter lives with them as caregiver. The crew weeded the front flower beds and spread 8 yards of donated bark mulch. This was work the family simply could not do, and they were so happy to have it done for them.
Pete lives in south Bellevue with three generations in the house. He has diabetes and is bound to a wheelchair with his foot in a boot. The crew trimmed the bushes and trees in the entire yard, mowed the lawn, cleaned the roof & gutters and cut back a large laurel hedge. Pete was on the porch the whole time and enjoyed the conversation, as much as the work.
The commitment of groups like this one and many others, allows people in the community who are otherwise lonely and isolated, to receive help and to know that someone cares. It is amazing to hear conversations break out with stories and laughter, where people become friends and feel loved in a short amount of time.
For those of you who serve in Jubilee Service Day whether in late August in our schools or anytime a neighbor needs help…thank you!