“Can you help me?”
Neighbors Helping Neighbors is a Good Works initiative that sends out volunteers into the community to help people at their homes with needs they have. Our first contact with our neighbors is often by phone. They call to ask, “Can you help me?” We will then send out an application to give them some information about Neighbors Helping Neighbors and have them complete the application. The application is the first step in us determining if we are able to help someone with a need they have.
But there is a delicate tension in place with each application we send out. “Lord, who is going to help this person? They are seeking assistance from us, but will we have someone to send them?” You see, in order for us to help people through Neighbors Helping Neighbors, we need to have volunteers. While GW staff do supervise and work alongside our volunteers, staff do not go out and do these projects for people by themselves. We need volunteers, skilled and unskilled, who will hear the cry of people struggling with poverty and offer to go meet and serve someone in our community.
For what kind of things do people request help?
- Mowing is a big and ongoing need. Each year we get many requests from people who are elderly and disabled asking for mowing assistance. They have the responsibility of keeping their lawn mowed and each year we have to turn people away because we do not have enough volunteers to keep up with the mowing rotation.
- One of our most uncommon unfulfilled needs is in regard to electrical issues. This could be as simple as installing a new light fixture, or as extensive as rewiring a trailer. Regardless, skilled volunteer electricians are hard to come by.
- We like to help people establish a garden on their property. This past year we supported 17 people in their efforts to grow food for themselves. In order to provide this support, we need volunteers.
- Do you enjoy reliable heat and air conditioning? Most likely it is because someone has done the necessary maintenance work to keep this equipment running. The homes of people struggling with poverty also need heat and A/C, but the cost of having this work done is often prohibitive and so they go without. Eventually the system goes down. They don’t have the money to fix the system. Skilled, volunteer HVAC technicians is our single biggest need for Neighbors Helping Neighbors.
- Each winter we get a cold spell down below zero. And each year we get calls from people asking for help replacing frozen pipes. While Neighbors Helping Neighbors is not a crisis response initiative, we do want to help people with pipes that are leaking. Volunteer plumbers is a major need for Neighbors Helping Neighbors.
- Have you ever tried to clean your house from a wheel chair? We have several people for whom we clean regularly who are limited in how much house keeping they can do themselves due to physical challenges. We need volunteers who would serve their neighbors by cleaning their homes and apartments.
- Each year we replace one roof. We need volunteer roofing crews! Actually, we just need a volunteer roofer who will direct others who are willing to do the hard labor.
- Painting is often considered a cosmetic task. But in reality, paint is an important means of protecting one’s home. We need volunteers who are willing to do the hard, but necessary work of preparing to paint and then patiently painting their home inside or out.
- As people age and experience disabilities of one kind or another, the need arises to replace steps with ramps. The cost of putting these in is very expensive and usually prohibitive for most. But with volunteers skilled in this kind of construction, it becomes possible to address this need.
Good Works Neighbors Helping Neighbors is not just seeking people to complete projects, though it is clear the need is very real and ongoing. Rather, our biggest need for volunteers is people who are willing to take the time to connect with someone in our community. Such a volunteer takes the time to listen, offers dignity by giving them an opportunity to participate and give, and who will invite them into their circle of friends.
Such volunteers can do so much to help people. Can you hear them calling you? “Would you come and help ME?”