A dozen big sacks of yard debris lined Gloria Wiley’s curb by 10 a.m. Saturday, just an hour after several gray-headed members of the Nemesis softball team started whacking at the brush in her backyard.
“It means a lot to me,” said Wiley, a tenant with disabilities on the 2600 block of Kansas City’s Euclid Avenue.
Twenty-nine other homes around the metro got the same treatment at the same time, compliments of The Whole Person nonprofit center for independent living.
The organization dispatched 150 volunteers to clean up the yards of 30 households where occupants with disabilities needed the help.
“We had 25 students from Fort Hays State University come in to work,” said Terri Goddard, The Whole Person’s resource development manager. “We’ve got Boy Scout troops, Girl Scout troops, families bringing their children to help the community.”
And don’t leave out the Nemesis team of the Heart of America Softball League, which included Ron Miller, 73. Teammate Phil Whitaker is a youthful 55, out stuffing bags in Wiley’s yard despite undergoing cancer surgery last month.
The areawide sweep, called “Planting Independence,” meant not just sweeping, but also mowing, raking, weeding, trimming and in some cases planting flowers. Goddard estimated that 600 tall bags of waste were filled.
The project got started last April, when volunteer crews hit 17 properties. Then 25 yards in October. More will be trimmed up this fall.
“We used to get calls here and there throughout the year from people needing yard help,” Goddard said. “By scheduling two big events for the year, the calls have really dropped off.”
In addition to making a yard sunnier and prettier, the volunteers help residents avoid local fines.