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  • Writer's pictureRachel Nelson

Helping a Homeowner Helps a Village

Fifty years in a neighborhood is a pretty substantial amount of time. For Ms. Wanda Ward, also known as “Grandma” it’s been her home, her community, and the hub of her family for decades. Though Grandma has oodles of grandkids, she’s known throughout the neighborhood by that moniker.

“I helped rear almost all the children in our neighborhood. They would come to my house and play while their families were at work, explained Ms. Ward. “Everybody just started calling me Grandma.”

Grandma has worked hard to preserve her home for her future generations. When she and her late husband purchased this home on the Westside of Indianapolis, the intent was to do so for the blessing of their children’s children.

“I feel when you move into a house that it’s your home,” said Grandma. “You're supposed to protect it and it protects you.”

However, after the passing of her husband and the constant “can we put this in your garage? From friends and family, things began to get away from Grandma. This past year she was cited by the Marion County Health Department for several exterior issues with her home and yard. Even in her younger days, Grandma admits that yard work was never her forte. That was generally left to her husband or kids. However, even if she wanted to, Grandma is heavily occupied by her three great grandchildren that she recently adopted, as well as caring for her sister who is ill. Her yard is a great size for a bunch of neighborhood kids to run around in, but too large for a busy senior citizen to wrangle back into shape - specifically with old trees with storm-damaged branches and plenty of overgrowth.

“My church member told me about NeighborLink. I was skeptical of calling. I feel like I'm trying to do everything on my own and I'm not going to depend upon anybody else, but she talked me into talking with them,” said Grandma. “I called and felt so secure! I felt good, like why did I wait so long?”

Funny enough, it wasn’t the citations that initiated the call to NeighborLink, it was because her sister had fallen down her front steps. She needed the handrail fixed for safer in-and-out access. Not only did our assessors note the handrail needing work, but the citation cases around the yard and home were certainly in our abilities as well. Timing was advantageous too, NeighborLink Indianapolis was preparing to host a large volunteer event, BOO! Hope Repair Doesn’t Have to be Scary the Saturday before Halloween. This was a perfect project for a sizeable group of volunteers to come out and help take care of.

“It makes my heart just melt because, you know, in this day and age you feel like there’s just not that many people out there that care,” Grandma noted after being asked how seeing the host of volunteers at her house made her feel. “I can't believe that there's so many young people willing to help and do things like this. To see all the cars and all the people that came to help, I just could not believe it!”

A mixed group of volunteers gathered and tackled Grandma’s yard, garage and everything in between. They cleared out debris so the garage wall that had been cited could be worked on by our BY Plus Trainees. The yard was made so much safer for her great grandkids and cleared the way for a fixed handrail and steps.

If you work with a team of people that have a heart for the city of Indianapolis and the people within, consider showing how much you care by organizing a group project with us. Whether it’s helping clear a yard, painting a home, or other easy repairs you’re not only helping support that homeowner, you’re helping protect their home for generations to come.

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