South Whidbey Hearts & Hammers needs houses to fix for workday

A Hearts & Hammers crew digs in to help fix a drainage area at a Clinton home during last year
A Hearts & Hammers crew digs in to help fix a drainage area at a Clinton home during last year's May workday.
— image credit: Lorinda Kay / The Record

There is a small army on South Whidbey that has nothing to do with war.

This particular battalion is all heart. And helpful hands.

It is the crew that gathers each year in May to help neighbors with a variety of things that need fixing around the house.

Hearts & Hammers is a local nonprofit, now in it’s 18th year, that has created a name for itself among the residents of the South End who cherish its ubiquitous influence on community spirit and the work it gets done for local homeowners in need.

Each year Hearts & Hammers organizes a workday when hundreds of volunteers spend the day lending their skills and elbow grease to homeowners who are physically or financially unable to do needed repair work on their homes.

The goal is to help people stay in their homes in a safe and comfortable environment. In short, it is a day of neighbors helping neighbors.

This coming year, the Hearts

& Hammers workday falls on Saturday, May 7, and this well-tooled group of citizens is in need of houses to fix and neighbors to help.

For some homeowners, it is a godsend and a huge helping of peace of mind.

Karen and Harvey Sanderson of Langley were pleased to welcome the Hearts & Hammers crew to their home last year.

“It was our first experience with Hearts & Hammers, and it went very well,” Karen Sanderson said.

Harvey Sanderson, 73, is no longer able to climb ladders to the roof, or do many of the chores that were once easily done.

“They came over and said your deck needs replacing,” Karen Sanderson said.

“They did a very fine job in one day. The deck is beautiful — they did such beautiful work,” she said.

Last year more than 400 volunteers worked at nearly 50 sites from Greenbank to Clinton repairing homes for the disabled, the elderly and homeowners with limited resources. Crews also worked at various sites chopping wood, recycling, preparing food and providing support services. Volunteers built ramps; fixed plumbing; repaired roofs, floors, bathrooms and kitchens; cleaned yards; cleared trees; and provided practical help wherever they could for what represented more than 4,500 hours of service.

When the work is done, the volunteers and homeowners celebrate the day by sitting down to a big dinner together at South Whidbey High School.

“I was just amazed at the crowd that was there at the high school for the dinner afterward,” Karen Sanderson said.

“And by the fact that all those people cooking the food are also volunteers. We met lots of people that evening, and it just was very gratifying,” she said.

Labor and materials are free for the homeowners, many of whom work alongside the volunteers when physically able. All of it is made possible through the generous donations of individuals, businesses and churches, community and service organizations and by in-kind donations of labor and materials.

But all this free help needs places to go.

If your home is in need of help, call Hearts & Hammers at 221-6063, or to apply online — click here. A volunteer will return your call within a few days. Apply by mail at Hearts & Hammers, PO Box 694, Langley, WA 98260.

Hearts & Hammers board members are available to speak to any group or organization interested in learning the scope and mission of the volunteer organization.

Available to homeowners in need before the May workday is the Home Emergency Action Repair Team (HEART). A number of volunteers offer their help all year long for homes that need critical attention immediately.

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