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A heartfelt homage to Hearts & Hammers | ALL ABOARD

Once a year, on the first Saturday of May, an extreme goodness fills the air, an extreme goodness that began 19 years ago when 90 Hearts and Hammers volunteers broke bread, backs and brawn to repair 17 South Whidbey homes.

What happens on this day of extreme goodness can only be experienced.

No description, whether in word, song or photograph, can explain the unexplainable.

People helping people.

Neighbors helping neighbors.

Friends helping friends.

It is a day of extreme goodness which connects the goodness that already exists.

With a 500-word limitation on these monthly musings, publisher protocol does not permit thanking the more than 500 Hearts & Hammers volunteers who gathered last May 7 in the wetness and the wind to work wonders for more than 50 homes in our community.

People like Dave Johnson, Rob Hetler, Jim Scullin, Chris Spencer and Richard Epstein, a five-pack of professional perseverers, joined with like-minded community care sharers to, as Dr. Ric Prael often encouraged, “scatter joy.”

To paraphrase the Hometown Hero namesake of the recently dedicated Ric Prael Administrative Center at the Whidbey Island Center for the Arts in Langley, Hearts & Hammers not only “scatters joy,” it “plants joy.”

In fact, Hearts & Ham-mers not only plants joy, it sows it, layers it and composts it.

Ralph Waldo Emerson’s “Over Soul” essay is Hearts & Hammers annual “Over Joy” reality.

This year, for the third time in almost 30 years, Hearts & Hammers gave my loose caboose in Freeland an extreme makeover.

What has always been a non-mowable, ivy-infested slope of guerrilla growth is now a beautiful garden of pansies, nasturtiums, kale, Swiss chard and —  someday down the road — a pumpkin!

What has always been a rained-on, mold-creating shed of sentiment is now free and clear of a lifetime of unpacked memories.

Now I have a clean, and in some places dry, 8-by-12 storage space for my tools.

All five of them.

Room for Ray Gabelein’s rake, Pat Tompkins’ maul, Bill McKinley’s chain saw and two shovels without handles.

What an estate sale it shall some day be!

Where 83-year-old cracked caboose windows leaked liquid sunshine, there is now an unobstructed view of the second largest beautifully blooming cherry tree on South Whidbey.

No longer will unsolicited solicitors slip on steps en route to rot.

Harrison built new steps!

All of my wet, abandoned rounds of next winter’s firewood?

Split and stacked, thanks to Hearts & Hammers.

They got ’er done and get ’er done, rain or shine, hot or cold, wet or wild.

My dedicated Team No. 29, sporting the name tags of Harrison, Erin, Lee, Margaret, Dave, Helen, Christine, Lauren, Chris, Linda and Lucas, spent a full day in the cool wetness completing tasks that I never could have completed by myself.

God bless you, Hearts & Hammers.

You know who you are, even if we don’t.

Thanks for your giving and receiving.

Thanks for your sharing and caring.

Thanks for reinforcing the reality of our incredible community, further connecting and co-creating the goodness that is.

If you care to become involved in this incredible life affirming experience next year, please enjoy their informative and picturesque website, www.heartsandhammers.com, or leave a message at 221-6063.

Come next May, on the first Saturday, you too could be joining hundreds of other like-minded Hearts

& Hammers volunteers, whistling while you work, even if it rains.

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