The power of volunteering for a good organization like Hearts + Hammers creates strong threads that build community and friendship.
Weaving more threads of good juju last Valentine’s Day folks gathered at the annual Spaghetti Feed, a kickstarter and community gathering to support Hearts and Hammers’ annual May Saturday of lending a hand to fixing and landscaping our neighbors’ homes and gardens.
Hearts and Hammers began as a simple notion. Noticing that some women of her church needed help with house repair and gardening, Clyde Theatre’s Lynn Willeford, a self-described “serial starter-upper,” organized people to gather and help their neighbors. With initial sponsorship by the Langley United Methodist Church, Hearts and Hammers began as a pilot program in 1994 to help repair and rehabilitate homes for those who were either unable or couldn’t afford to do the work alone. The group is now a 501(c)3 nonprofit, which received a generous $10,000 matching grant from the Goosefoot Community Fund.
“It doesn’t take a whole lot of time or trouble to make someone happy,” Willeford said in an interview three years ago.
Indeed. On Valentine’s Day 2020, the Langley United Methodist Church kitchen was humming with pots of sauce and water boiling for pasta. Loaves of garlic bread. Giant bowls of salad. An estimated 400+ meals are served for a suggested $5 donation.
Volunteering to serve were members of community and the Whidbey Island Association of Realtors.
“We’re here to dive in,” says Dana MacInnis, a real estate broker with John L. Scott Real Estate in Langley. “This is a high vibe community event.”
Two of the first guests to show up are beloved Good Cheer volunteer Betty Kendall—she is in charge of organizing Good Cheer’s Langley book department—and her longtime friend and neighbor Lucy Hansen. Lucy worked for years at Community Thrift, now Senior Thrift in Freeland. She lives in a home her husband built 40 years ago.
“I used to help out in the kitchen for these events,” Betty recalls.
Lucy adds, “We go every year.”
When asked if I could send them a copy of this story, Lucy says, “We don’t have computers. We have a real telephone.” I’ll have to send them a print copy.
Another guest who stopped by early is Kat Kennewick, an advocate of community gatherings such as this. “What they do is really important. I’ve had friends who had a roof put on.”
Beloved couple Leonard and Linda Good benefitted three years ago when Hearts + Hammers replaced their roof.
It was date night for Melinda and Keith Mack, who chose the church’s dining hall as the place to celebrate a day of love.
“Hearts + Hammers does important work,” Melinda said, plate in hand. “This is our valentine’s romantic dinner with the Langley community. What better way to express love?”
On her way to join friends inside, local volunteer and artist Judith Dankanics, said, “Every I year I come to support Hearts and Hammers. They have really good food!”
Jim Scullin has served on the H+H board the past 24 years. “It’s an absolutely unique organization, he says. “Our mandate is find us the job. It’s organized like a military unit with commanders and generals. Principal thing is community building because…”
Judith added, “…I’ve never lived anywhere like this. People say they’re home.”
Finishing his thought, Jim added, “The first year I was general we did 50 jobs. We made a point to go around to visiting the work sites. By the time I visited the fifth one that day, I thought, this is significant. By the time I visited 10 to 15 sites, I thought, this is a miracle. By 40, I thought, no one knows the scope of this. This is enormous. The interaction and connection. I hear over and over, people are moved by having strangers in their lives. Many people are isolated. H+H is a model for other communities.”
To volunteer for or ask for help for the Saturday May 2 Neighbors Helping Neighbors event, click this link.