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Uniting Community with a Chore or Two

Jared Laabs
Posted by Jared Laabs on 2:30 PM on June 6, 2018

You may think of Twin Cities Habitat as a home builder, but that’s just part of the story. Safe and affordable housing isn’t just a one solution problem. Habitat’s Age in Place program is piloting chore services that strive to keep aging, low-income homeowners in their home and communities as long as possible by providing assistance for household chores that require a helping hand. As homeowners get a little older, a little bit of help goes a long way. We recently visited with Teri, who lives in Mounds View, to learn more about what kind of assistance she needed and discovered a small army of hard-working volunteers from United Properties.

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Northeast Youth and Family Services referred homeowner Teri to Twin Cities Habitat’s Chore Services program. Habitat reached out to one of its partners to lend a hand and to roll up their sleeves. Last fall was the first time a volunteer group visited Teri’s home. She lives on a large corner lot with many large trees and shrubs. This spring's clean-up was similar, but this time without the cool weather. 92 degrees with high humidity wasn’t going to stop the crew from United Properties!

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The biggest highlight from the day was getting to know Teri. She spent most of the day outside near the garage chatting with whomever walked by. She’s immensely proud of her home and yard. It’s filled with mature trees and an assortment of plants and flowers she’s acquired over the many years. A tip from Teri—visit Aldi in the spring to find some amazing deals on flowering plants.  She moved into her home when she was 21 and has been there ever since. “I have my roots planted here,” she says. Being an only child, she doesn’t have much family around after her parents passed. Teri spent her entire career as a school bus driver and made $4.50/hour when she began. She retired after she got glaucoma and couldn’t pass the annual physical. She commented about how tough the job was, but she loved it. 

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A volunteer approached Teri and asked what she wanted to do with some of her plants. She said, “You can do whatever you want.” You could tell that Teri was very grateful for all of the work being done and she wasn’t about to tell anyone what to do. She was so glad to have people who cared lend a hand. Her energetic and fun conversation was a great motivator and brought light to why a caring community can be so rewarding.

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Meanwhile a few miles away...

A second United Properties crew, joined by some staff from Ebenezer Senior Living, was just a few miles away at another homeowner project. The yard was big and had several overgrown shrubs and trees. Several volunteers wished they had more time and tools to tackle the job. Even after a few hours of labor in the hot and muggy air, their red faces were overpowered by smiles. Everyone was working hard, but they were glad to be there.

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Mid-shift, a few volunteers were able to sit down with the homeowner. Taking a few minutes out of their day to get to know Amelia seemed to energize their body and spirits. It was time for a quick photo, then everyone rapidly dispersed across the yard to finish what they started. Time was precious, and they were on a mission to win back this yard! 

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When asked about why staff volunteer for projects like this one, a volunteer said, “It’s important to be a part of the entire senior community.” Giving back and supporting the aging population was why they were there. It’s not just about completing chores. It’s about supporting people and providing community, and the means for homeowners to keep their home, their roots.

 

How can you help?

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Are you interested in assisting with our chore services work this spring and summer? We are currently recruiting team leaders to help us create a work scope, and then work alongside fellow volunteers to complete the project. Scheduling is somewhat flexible, and will depend on when groups are scheduled. Contact the Volunteer Coordinator at 612-305-7114 or volunteer@tchabitat.org to express interest in leading a group.

 

Tags: Volunteer Spotlight, Age in Place, 2018

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