New service group takes shape

Camas, Washougal residents asked to share time to help their neighbors

By Marissa Harshman, Columbian Health Reporter

Published:

 

If you're interested in volunteering with the Washougal-Camas community service group, contact Sean or Ann Guard at 360-834-2533 or <a href="mailto:seanguard@comcast.net.">seanguard@comcast.net.</a>

If you’re interested in volunteering with the Washougal-Camas community service group, contact Sean or Ann Guard at 360-834-2533 or seanguard@comcast.net.

This weekend, a few dozen Washougal and Camas residents will get back to doing what small towns do best: help one another.

Current and former residents are volunteering to spend their Saturday hauling away yard debris and household junk for people who cannot perform the work themselves.

The volunteers are part of a newly formed community service group in the Camas-Washougal area. This weekend’s effort is the first of what organizers hope will become monthly projects.

So far, more than 30 people — including those who are elderly, have disabilities or facing income restraints — have asked the group for help this weekend.

“It’s just exploding,” Washougal Mayor Sean Guard said.

Volunteers will drive their own pickup trucks to the homes, load up the debris and garbage and haul everything away for free. Waste Connections and Triangle Resources are supplying commercial garbage bins and their services to collect the trash and debris.

The city of Washougal will hold its annual Debris Day for the entire community May 12.

The community service group, which has yet to be named, was formed by Guard and his wife, Ann. The Guards belong to a number of different service organizations. But throughout the years, they’ve noticed more and more of those groups doing fundraisers and meetings and straying away from actual boots-on-the-ground community service.

“In today’s world, everybody’s doing less and less projects,” Guard said.

So the Guards decided to form their own service group with no meetings and no monthly dues.

Guard asked around and wrote emails and posts on his Facebook page to gauge the public interest in the group.

His email list of volunteers has already surpassed 50 names, many of whom have indicated they plan to bring church groups or Boy Scout troops to help with weekend projects.

“It’s really cool,” Guard said. “There are groups of people getting together. It shows there’s a need for people to jump in and do community service for folks who need help.”

Guard plans to work with the two cities’ code enforcement officers, police officers and firefighters to try and find possible projects. Those projects could include rebuilding a porch, painting a house or landscaping an overgrown yard. If the projects require supplies, Guard plans to solicit donations from businesses and community members.

Guard hopes the service projects will get people more involved in their communities in a time when many people don’t even know their neighbors’ names.

“I’d love to see more community members coming together for their communities,” Guard said. “Get back to doing what we used to do as a smaller community.”

Marissa Harshman: 360-735-4546; http://twitter.com/col_health; http://facebook.com/reporterharshman; marissa.harshman@columbian.com.