Community volunteers were asked to help improve one block in Great Bend on Saturday. Dozens of people showed up to give the 900 block of Jefferson Street an exterior makeover at the city’s first Damn It, Do It Day.
“I’m so pleased with how many people showed up,” said Sara Hayden, president of Great Bend Economic Development Inc. Hayden and Ryan Fairchild, co-owner of Dry Lake Brewing, organized the event.
Linn Hogg with Volunteers In Action said 43 people were signed up to help but a few more showed up. Three-year-old Eli Smith was there with his dad, Shane, wearing tall boots and helping out. “It’s been great,” Shane Smith said.
“I’m excited about seeing the community come together,” Hogg said. “There are people here from all walks of life – all ages.”
People showed up with work gloves and sunscreen and anything else that could be used: mowers, weed eaters, rakes, paint rollers and brushes, pruning shears, brooms and dustpans. Each house had a poster in front with the homeowner’s first name and a checklist of chores. Weeding and mowing were the first items, but some houses needed paint or new siding, trash hauled away (with the owner’s help) or ramps repaired.
“One person told me, “This has really restored my faith in Great Bend,’” Hayden said. As for the residents, they were stunned to hear that others would do this for them, she said.
“Life has been tough for a lot of these people and they haven’t been able to do it themselves,” Hayden said of the home improvements. “This is really taking a huge load off of their shoulders.”
Although they focused on one block where the need was obvious, the organizers hope to fight apathy and start a trend of goodwill throughout the community.
“It would be overwhelming for any one property owner,” Hayden said. “Our goal is to inspire the rest of the community to step up and do these sort of things.”
That can include doing little things for neighbors year-round, she suggested.
Volunteers worked from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. and then celebrated with a block party. Tents were set up for sign-in and a place to rest or grab a bottle of water. Hogg pointed to the new Volunteers In Action banner on one tent, with the message “Never Fear, the Volunteers are Here.” It arrived just in time for Saturday’s event, she said.
Some of the work Saturday was done by local contractors, and the organizers were seeking sponsors to help pay for more serious repairs. Volunteers In Action of Central Kansas (facebook.com/volunteersinactionpage/) coordinated the help and others created a Damn It Do It Facebook group (facebook.com/groups/damnitdoitgbk). For information about continuing the effort call Hayden at Great Bend Economic Development, 620-796-2407.