Where I Went:
Catalyst-Partnerships is a non-profit organization that completes home restoration projects for elderly, disabled, and low-income citizens. Our church, Kaleo Covenant, partners with Catalyst periodically for some of these renovations. Last weekend’s venture had volunteers transform an elderly couple’s front yard from a large grassy area into a low-maintenance landscape. The project also included building an access ramp for the homeowner with limited mobility.
Some people find yard work soothing. They go on at great lengths about the joy of working the earth and they show pride in growing beauty from seed. I am not one of those people. I try to get out of yard work whenever I can.
|Pastor lead us in prayer.
I needed all the help I could get!
When our family of four arrived at the home site, most of our church group was already hard at work. Pastor and his son started on the patio and Pastor’s Wife used her muscles to rototill the ground. At 9:00a.m., Shawn (Director at Catalyst-Partnerships and “man in charge”) pulled us together for job assignments. He requested volunteers to haul bark dust, to dig holes and plant, to work on a drywall job inside, to build an accessible ramp to the front door, and to lay paver stones. Lots and lots of paver stones.
None of these jobs sounded great to me. I raised my hand to help with a section of pavers.
“I’ve never done this before,” I warned, thinking the director would find me a job like washing windows or handing out water bottles.
Shawn called out, “How many people have never put down pavers before?”
Almost everyone raised a hand.
“You’ll be fine,” he encouraged.
|Just a few of the paver stones.|
While most everyone volunteering on Sunday attends Kaleo, a few neighborhood residents came to help. Opal lives a few streets down. She joined me in laying a section of pavers. Opal shared that Catalyst gave her yard a low-maintenance landscape last year when a job lay-off caused financial hardship. Now she wants to give back.
As Opal and I chatted about life, we came upon a “small world” moment. After her previous employer let her go, she went back to school and became a substitute instructional aide for the Beaverton School District. It just so happens Kaleo has at least 6 Beaverton School District teachers in our congregation, all there volunteering that day. Opal introduced herself and learned she’d be substituting in Pastor’s Wife’s class this week. I love when “God stuff” happens!
Every service project Kaleo does together is family friendly. All of our kids helped in some capacity with the landscaping. A hard working 13 year old helped Opal and I with our section of pavers. A 6th grade boy served as sole apprentice for the accessible ramp project. That boy had so much energy and enthusiasm, I don’t think he took a break all day! The rest of the kids spread dirt, planted wild strawberry plants, and smoothed out large piles of bark dust.
I learned a lot about my own offspring in this volunteer assignment. I’ve passed down my disdain of yard work to my eldest. She did everything possible to avoid the dirt and heat, but she loved assuming babysitting duties for the toddlers that showed up. My youngest takes after her father – give her a job and she’ll tackle it. She took particular interest in the small details, like making sure every grain of sand had a place in between the pavers.
|My eldest, doing what she loves: holding babies.|
After lunch I hit exhaustion. I sucked it up and went back to setting paver stones in the 82 degree heat. When our small work team congratulated each other for a job well done, Shawn pointed out that 21 of the stones were uneven. So we dug them out, grabbed the level, and re-paved. I was sweaty, I was dirty, and I wanted to go home, but work still needed to get done.
I persevered through the rest of the afternoon, though not quietly or without protest.
|The small area I helped with.
I wish I could say I did it all without complaining.
Tired, hot, and uncomfortable, I watched my friends in awe. My husband continually dug dirt and shoveled bark. Pastor, Pastor’s Wife, and Mr. F arrived first thing in the morning and worked nonstop until every plant was planted, every paver was even, and every sidewalk was swept. Mr. M arrived early to an accessible ramp just barely started, and with his 6th grade construction assistant they finished the ramp and railing. All of them working 7+ hours without complaint. (Until the next day, when all of us over the age of 40 were so sore we couldn’t move without grumbling.)
|My husband and Mr. F|
|Pastor’s Wife. She’s so tough.|
Today there are two elderly Beaverton residents who won’t have to worry about high-maintenance landscaping. The husband can easily reach his front door using his walker, and the wife can rest easy knowing their budget will be spent on necessities like food and medicine. All of this happened because a group of caring people love Jesus and want to show the “nature of a servant.”
Lots of mowing needed
Dirt area has “no mow” grass seed planted
How to Help:
Catalyst-Partnership’s website lists all current and upcoming projects. Email the specific coordinator for the job that interests you, and you will be contacted with the necessary details. If you are not afraid of hard work and want to make a huge difference in someone’s life, this is the place to volunteer!