Ten north Wichita homeowners have improved home exteriors thanks to the work of about 150 volunteers from Young Professionals of Wichita and others on Saturday.
The morning’s rain delayed but didn’t stop volunteers who trimmed bushes, hauled debris, and repaired and cleaned up homes in the area near Schell Park at 25th Street North and Arkansas.
Homeowners who applied for the services were chosen by physical or financial need, said Sommer Keplar, Young Professionals of Wichita past chairwoman and a participant in the fourth-annual event called Enhance CommunityProject.
“The hope is to beautify their neighborhood,” said Chad Glen of Sheldon Architecture, chairman of the Enhance Action team.
At a home in the 2500 block of north Mascot, Sam Foreman, a lawyer with Klenda Austerman, was trimming bushes.
“I am a bush-designing artisan,” Foreman joked.
It felt good to help, he said. “It’s just a wonderful opportunity to give back to the community.”
Other volunteers tore down a rickety shed, trimmed trees and scraped paint. They were planning to mow, paint a wrought-iron fence, replace outdoor lighting and do other work.
Inside the house was a happy homeowner, Lola Howard, who lost her husband in 1992 and has had a hip replacement.
She has lived there since 1958.
Now on a limited income and in poor health, Howard can’t do the work herself or afford to hire it done. The needed work got her down, she said.
“I just kept getting more depressed about it,” she said. “I wouldn’t even go outside.”
Being chosen was a welcome surprise.
“It knocked me for a loop,” she said.
Saturday morning, Howard was happy to see the volunteers at her door, “just as polite as could be.”
“It makes you appreciate the young kids,” she said.
Two blocks away on North Burns, volunteers from Martin Pringle law firm were fixing doors, clearing overgrown bushes, landscaping and fixing guttering.
“They are wonderful,” said the homeowner, whom neighbors call Grandma. Because she lives alone, she didn’t want her name used.
The helpers are doing things she can’t do for herself, she said.
“I’m just in awe watching them,” she said. “They’re doing a fantastic job and I appreciate it.”
Along with the cleanup, volunteers held a lunchtime celebration in the park for the neighborhood with a barbecue, games and activities for children.
Donors contributed to the project’s $15,000 budget, which included a $5,000 gift from Carlos O’Kelly’s restaurants, the presiding sponsor.
“Any kind of that work builds your heart,” said Jon Rolph, who leads the company managing Carlos O’Kelly’s.
Other sponsors included Hutton Construction, Adecco, Star Lumber, Sheldon Architecture, Bank of the West, Colab, Emprise Bank, Intrust Bank, Morris Laing, Martin Pringle, Grubb & Ellis, Professional Engineering Consultants and Koch Industries.