Great Leaf Rake-up seeks volunteers

Recipients can also sign up for Saturday’s free event

By Scott Hewitt, Columbian social issues & neighborhoods reporter

Published:

 

Wanted: Needy homeowners drowning in leaves, and robust volunteers wielding rakes.

If you go

What: Great Leaf Rake-Up. Volunteers wanted to help needy neighbors with seasonal yard work. (People who need help also wanted).

When: Sign up before event day, Nov. 19.

On the Web:http://neighborli...>

Call: 360-818-4330.

David Bilby knows there are plenty of both out there. He want to use software he’s developed to help hook them up — sending those eager rakes chasing down that flood of leaves.

The second annual Great Leaf Rake-Up is headed for neighborhoods all over Clark County on Saturday. Bilby’s homegrown volunteer network, Go Connect, is looking to sign up as many volunteers as possible who are interested in taking on that signature autumn chore for folks who can’t manage it themselves. That could be due to disability, age, isolation, financial straits — whatever it is, Bilby said, if you can’t do it, his volunteers can.

If you’re interested in giving or getting help, visit http://neighborlinkup.com/rakeup or call 360-818-4330. When you sign up you’ll be given the name and address of someone in your area who requested assistance.

“We work with a lot of folks who need help,” said Bilby, Go Connect’s executive director. Suggestions used to come through a small handful of local agency caseworkers — from groups like the Veterans Administration, the Southwest Washington Agency on Aging and CDM Services — whose clients needed help with basic homemaking or repairs.

“It’s a roof repair, it’s a bad deck — it’s the little, practical things that people need to get done so they can get along,” Bilby said. “It’s plumbing, it’s painting. And it’s raking leaves.”

For a couple of years, Bilby said, Go Connect was growing slowly via word of mouth, and participating in the occasional big work party via local churches. Then he decided to get a little more organized, go hunting for people in need as well as willing volunteers, and sign them all up via a mapping website.

“Now it’s booming,” he said, with more than 1,200 volunteers signed up last year. Word is spreading both among volunteer groups and clubs, as well as the caseworkers who know where to send them, he said. No public money is involved.

Bilby said he loves putting together volunteers and the people in need — not just to get the jobs done, but to help make some human connections too.

“It is fun to talk to people and hear their stories,” he said. “We try to encourage relationships.”

The leaves will all be taken to Northwest Organic Farms in Ridgefield and used as compost.

Scott Hewitt: 360-735-4525; http://www.twitter.com/col_nonprofits; scott.hewitt@columbian.com.