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Have a heart and a hammer: Central Whidbey helps homeowners

Hearts and Hammers volunteers Janet Wodjenski and Mike Cason cut a board needed to repair a deck at a Greenbank home Saturday. - Nathan Whalen/Whidbey News-Times
Hearts and Hammers volunteers Janet Wodjenski and Mike Cason cut a board needed to repair a deck at a Greenbank home Saturday.
— image credit: Nathan Whalen/Whidbey News-Times

Since multiple sclerosis confined Linda Lines to a wheelchair, she hasn't been able to maintain the plants that surround her house and they kept growing and growing.

Fortunately, a group of volunteers from the newly formed Central Whidbey Heart and Hammers came to her home south of Coupeville to get the plants under control and otherwise clean up her yard.

"Being in a wheelchair I just can't do it anymore," Lines said from her driveway as she watched the volunteers cheerfully at work. They're doing a great job. I didn't expect it to go this well."

Volunteers spent Saturday morning pulling weeds, cutting down blackberry bushes and removing trash from Lines' home.

Saturday marked the first workday for the new Central Whidbey Hearts and Hammers group. Organizers had originally planned for projects at five homes and had anticipated 20 volunteers. However, the house list ballooned to 17 homes, and more than 60 people chipped in to help spruce up homes and yards.

Organizer John Schisel said the group will undertake a once-a-year blitz to help complete home repairs. That's how it's done on South Whidbey where Hearts & Hammers got its start years ago.

Co-organizer Alice Schisel said she hopes help will soon be available throughout the year to complete emergency repairs should the need arise.

Volunteers broke up into teams Saturday and ventured to homes from Greenbank to Coupeville.

Janet Wodjenski and Mike Cason were at Tom and Florence Harves' home in Greenbank repairing a deck and cleaning out gutters.

Bill Skubi, who had volunteered for Hearts and Hammers on South Whidbey for nine years, was busy cutting blackberry bushes on Lines' property. He was trying to save a rhododendron plant that was being asborbed by a blackberry bush.

Florence Harves was thrilled to have the volunteers come to her home. She won't miss cleaning out the gutters. "I don't have to go on the ladder," said the 83-year-old Flores. She and her husband Tom built their home in 1980.

"We did all of the work ourselves but a little bit of the tile work," she said, thrilled to see the volunteers preserving what they had done.

Homeowners seeking help from Hearts and Hammers needed yardwork completed, doors repaired and trash removed from their property.

John Schisel said a group teamed up to paint the home of a 96-year-old woman and Advanced Roofing in Coupeville donated services to repair a home's roof.

An electrician also visited every home participating in Saturday's event to check the condition of basic items such as fire alarms.

It's been a busy three months for the people who organized Central Whidbey Hearts and Hammers. Schisel said some people involved with the original Hearts and Hammers talked for years about starting a group on Central Whidbey.

"This year we just decided we would do it," Schisel said. An 11-member organizing committee met weekly and raised money, rounded up volunteers and willing homeowners who needed help. The South Whidbey group has been in operation for years and this year worked at 31 homes.

Schisel said the South Whidbey Hearts and Hammers group provided valuable support to get Saturday's workday off the ground. She said the group's president, Rob Hetler, guided the new effort. The workday pretty much exhausted the money raised, Schisel said, adding that more fund-raising needs to take place to organize volunteers for emergency situations.

For more information about Central Whidbey Hearts and Hammers, call 360-240-2964 or by email at cwheartsandhammers@gmail.com.

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