A day in the life of YardBuster volunteers
After a week of hot weather, the shade outside of Maya’s house is the perfect respite for YardBuster volunteers ready to tackle her overgrown front yard. The group gathers at the end of the front walkway, taking stock of the abundant greenery—much of which is weeds poking their way up through the gravel, overwhelming the flowers and bushes in the garden beds and giving the yard a shaggy look.
Maya moved to Longmont in the early 2000’s and loves the view from her front window. “You can see the mountains, the pond and the park. There’s a lot of wildlife. It’s like being in a bird sanctuary.” For the past few years, Maya has relied on YardBuster volunteers to keep her view clear of the fast-growing weeds and yard debris that accumulate after a long, wet winter. “I can’t do it anymore, and they’re fabulous!”
The fabulous YardBuster volunteers are from Elevations Credit Union, who teamed up with Cultivate and other local nonprofits to encourage their employees and members to give back to the community. It’s called Prosperity Month, and lasted throughout all of June, when 47 Elevations employees and members helped thirteen different seniors stay safe outside of their homes with Cultivate. Sarah Barton, one of the volunteers, sums it up perfectly. “I think it brings communities closer together, contributing something that’s not for your own self gain.”
The nine volunteers helping Maya spread out across the front yard. They’ll start with the weeds poking up through the gravel and will be able to see their progress quickly. Small fluffy piles of weeds begin to form as they’re pulled from the ground and tossed aside.
Jared Stone, another Elevations volunteer, sit cross-legged in the gravel with Sarah, and they work their way through the weeds. Although weeding isn’t usually high on most people’s list of preferred activities, it could be worse. “Lawn mowing,” Jared groans. “As a kid, that was my summer job.”
Luckily for Jared, mowing lawns isn’t part of his job at Elevations, although volunteering is. “They value what volunteer work can do for the community. It’s such a valuable way to spend your time. And it’s awesome that they allow you to make time to do it.” He explains how volunteering is part of the orientation process for new Elevations employees. “To be honest, up until that point I’ve never taken the time to really volunteer.”
For seniors like Maya, volunteer services fill a gap. Seniors with mobility or health limitations are oftentimes unable to take on the challenge of clearing their yard of plant debris. Along with removing the eyesore of an overgrown yard, volunteers are helping seniors stay safe outside of their homes and avoid fines from their city. Volunteer services help seniors stay independent and supported as they get older.
“We’re all in this together,” Sarah says. “You never know what’s going to happen or where your life is going to go. You hope that there may be someone else there who cares enough to help you in a form of volunteering.” Jared chimes in, “Also for the people doing the volunteering, there’s the immediate benefit of the compassion and empathy one builds while helping the community.”
Before long, the gravel is clear of weeds and the garden beds are emerging from their grass jungle. Maya’s yard is looking as pretty as her view. She checks on her volunteers throughout the morning—asking for a hand to help her down her front steps, pointing out the plants that should stay in the ground and offering iced green tea in a colorful jug. The day has warmed up considerably, but the yard stays comfortable in the shade. A task that would be monumental for Maya is manageable, and dare we say fun, for a group of people donating their time and energy to build a community that prospers together.
You can help a senior neighbor as a YardBuster volunteer, too! Sign up as an individual or with a group today.
Help seniors flourish by reconnecting them—as recipients and contributors—with their surrounding communities.