More than a dozen volunteers showed up around dawn Saturday to help Decatur resident George Craig enhance the curb appeal of his aging home. The echoing motivation was simple; those who gathered at the intersection of 2nd and Jackson streets on Saturday simply wanted to lend a helping hand.
City officials for months have been trying to persuade Craig to spruce up his deteriorating property, and many in the community felt the urge to do what they could to help. Craig and his son, George Jr., joined the group in the clean-up process on Saturday, pruning trees and bushes and clearing debris from around the home in work that was primarily aesthetic in nature. Structural problems at the home, and there are many, were left mostly unattended on this day. The city of Decatur provided a dump truck in which materials could be placed and later hauled away.
Many of the volunteers feel the clean-up process was only delaying the hard work that truly needs to be done. The cleanup was referred to “as a bandage to buy Mr. Craig more time to make improvements necessary to the structure of the home,” one volunteer explained.
Regardless of opinions of what ultimately should be done with the home, it appeared that most volunteers were there Saturday to help a fellow resident of Adams County; to do onto others as they would want someone to do onto them.
The elder Craig spoke of his home proudly and memorably. “I really appreciate the help I am receiving from the community,” he said as he was working.
“This is what community is all about,” Hoosier Pattern owner Keith Gerber explained of his contribution to the clean-up. “This is only cosmetic work, the entire process is a large undertaking.”
Many volunteers could recall when the home was a bed and breakfast, according Craig. He said it wasn’t for the money that he ran the bed and breakfast, it was to share the home with others. Ann Dallow, another volunteer, described her daughter’s wedding and their stay in the B&B for the duration of the event. Still others said they appreciated the woodwork, the grandfather clock and the historical importance of the home.
Professionals offered their assistance in the early morning hours. Medford Smith, 83, has helped build 11 Habitat for Humanity homes since 1995. “All I’ve got left is time, and this is what I want to do with it,” Smith said of his volunteer efforts. Greg Schauff of T and R Lawn Care offered his assistance and expertise in evaluating plants and helping to clean out weeds and those that were damaged.
Volunteer Holly Krick, a member of The Bridge church, said she walks by the Craig home every day, "and I love it." Another volunteer, Brenda Kuhnle, said she was "just here to help."
With all the volunteer assistance that poured in, Craig still seemed hesitant to let others step in and make altering decisions to his home. It appeared to be an emotional time when it came to letting go of certain plants and aspects of the home. Those who helped made sure that he was involved in the decisions and took direction from Craig on what would stay and what would go.
The goal was to help Craig, and that is what the community came together to do.