Oak Harbor Windermere helps give Help House a fresh look

Real estate agent Debbie Merritt volunteered along with other Windermere staff to “freshen up” the North Whidbey Help House last week. - Photo by Michelle Beahm/Whidbey News-Times
Real estate agent Debbie Merritt volunteered along with other Windermere staff to “freshen up” the North Whidbey Help House last week.
— image credit: Photo by Michelle Beahm/Whidbey News-Times

Acrew from Oak Harbor Windermere Real Estate leapt to action this past week to lend a helping hand to North Whidbey Help House.

The volunteer crew arrived Friday to paint, do yard work and just “freshen up” the place, according to Annie Cash, the Windermere employee who organized the event.

The annual community service day, held the third Friday of June, started in 1984.

Cash, a real estate agent with Windermere for seven years, said she called local nonprofits to find out which of them most needed work done.

She said Help House qualified and needed help.

“We try to find someplace that wants our services, and we come out and spend the afternoon doing whatever they need,” said Debbie Merritt, a real estate agent with Windermere. “Help House wanted paint and some yard work done, and that’s what we’re doing.”

“All these guys showed up and they’ve just gone with it,” said Jean Wieman, director of the Help House. “Obviously, they’ve done this before.”

Help House is a community food bank that opened July 7, 1977, Wieman said.

Wieman said Help House feeds about 587 families each month. The food bank is open Monday through Friday, and people can come twice a week for food.

Help House receives food donations from the commissary on Whidbey Island Naval Air Station, Safeway, Albertson’s and other sources.

“My favorite thing to say to people is, ‘Everybody remembers who we are during the holidays, but people are hungry 365 days a year,’” said Wieman.

Windermere’s community service day is “huge” for Help House because the agency relies so much on volunteers, she said.

Help House has a staff of four, one of which is a part-time employee, so volunteers take on much of the work there.

“I have a core group of about 10 volunteers who show up every week, have a regular shift to work here,” Wieman said. “So to get something of this magnitude done is incredible.”

The best part about the community service day is “giving back to the community … doing something to help our community,” Merritt said.

“It makes you feel good to volunteer.”


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