Brigade of volunteers links up to lift leaves

Vancouver man's website helps organize efforts to handle the annual chore

By Paris Achen, Columbian courts reporter

Published:

 
photoCornerstone Christian School sixth-graders Samantha Longchamp, left, 11, and Tiffany Mason, 12, help clear fallen leaves people who need a hand as part of the community service hours required by their school.

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About 60 volunteers from Crossroads Community Church, Cornerstone Christian School, Living Water Youth Group, Salmon Creek Methodist Church and unaffiliated individuals raked leaves for elderly, disabled and other residents in 30 Vancouver households who were in need of help with the annual chore.

The volunteers found the community-service jobs through a website founded in September 2010 by Vancouver resident David Bilby, head of the nonprofit Go Connect. NeighborLinkUp.com, one of Go Connect's nationwide services, lists projects to be done so groups, individuals and families can find ways to volunteer in their community.

Janet Jones, 66, who lives at Totem Pole Mobile Estates in Vancouver, said a group of volunteers found her through Neighbor Linkup last year and raked the leaves in her yard.

"It's the brown decomposing mush that's so hard to deal with," Jones said. "I want the yard to look nice, but my body can't do it."

Spreading the support

Saturday's volunteers came to her home again this year to repeat the task. And Jones helped round up other projects for the volunteers by networking in her neighborhood.

"One woman's husband died recently, and she needs help with the scraping of her fence," Jones said.

She said tuning in to her neighbors' needs helped provide projects for the volunteers and helped her and other neighbors get to know and look out for each other.

Bilby said many people want to do community service but don't know specifically how to help. The website helps solve that problem, he said.

He said some families choose a project from the website as a way to both help others and bond as a family.


Paris Achen: 360-735-4551; http://twitter.com/Col_Trends; http://facebook.com/ColTrends; paris.achen@columbian.com.