Real estate agents dedicate a day to community service Shepherd's Staff benefits from group's cleaning and repairs

June 25, 1998|By Mary Gail Hare | Mary Gail Hare,SUN STAFF

At Shepherd's Staff yesterday, crews were hammering, sawing, painting, even washing windows.

These were not professional carpenters or painters, but 40 Long & Foster real estate agents who volunteered at the Christian outreach center in Westminster. They earned blisters and aching muscles, not commissions.

"Sign in and we will give you a job," said Ann Gifford, a volunteer greeting those who had offered a day of labor.

Kathy Brown, Shepherd's Staff director since its founding in 1991, had promised the agents plenty of odd jobs.

"I told them to wear old clothes and bring a sense of humor," said Brown. "All I asked for was time."

When the Westminster realty office decided to have a community service day, agents chose Shepherd's Staff from among several possibilities.

"We were looking for a group that we could best serve," said Carl Starner, manager of the Westminster office. "Shepherd's Staff needed as many hands as it could get. We have no particular expertise in this work, but we had time and hands."

Hank Johnson took all morning to prepare the front door for a new coat of white paint. He sanded, scraped and replaced the weatherstripping first.

"The door should look good," he said. "It is the first thing people see when they come for help."

With a hefty tool belt strapped to his waist, Pat Pitrone looked more like a carpenter than a salesman. A local mill had donated bifold doors, which Pitrone and crew were turning into shelves.

"They came prepared with everything," said Gifford. "We really appreciate that, since we have little or no tools."

George Ecker said he did not mind playing carpenter for a day.

"We can build shelves for these people," he said. "After all, they are giving all these clothes away."

Angie Morgan, who pulled kitchen duty, enjoyed dressing down for the day in shorts and a T-shirt. In her real line of work, she has purchased a few "handyman specials" and knew how to repair swollen drawers and loose cabinets.

The volunteers referred all queries to Sharon Williams, whom they dubbed "Mrs. Mom." Williams, who coordinated the work teams, said the charity was an ideal choice.

"Shepherd's Staff serves the whole county, no matter where you live or what your faith is," Williams said. "Anything they need today, we are doing it."

Williams and a dozen others went through hefty boxes of donations, culling the best for a back-to-school store the center plans to open next month in an oversized shed.

"We are only keeping the best of the best," Williams told the group. "We want these kids to be able to shop here like they would in a store."

The mothers and grandmothers among her sorters could accurately gauge the size on any tagless items, Williams said.

"Where is summer stuff for boys?" asked Pat Fisher, rejecting a shirt with a stain and folding another spotless one into a pile of keepers. When Starner arrived with another four cartons of boys' clothing, Fisher figured that she would be in boys wear for the day.

Instead of an air-conditioned office, the volunteers had only fans to stave off the heat. They tirelessly finished one task and moved to another. Susan Schulteis bleached the porch railing to remove mildew. While waiting for it to dry, she washed windows.

"I wish I could get somebody to do mine at home," she said.

Fresh from scraping paint chips, Bob Jarboe called for a dustpan and brush.

"Heaven only knows where they would be," said Brown, who had lost track of available tools among so many volunteers. "I don't think I have ever had this much help at one time."

Many volunteers brought their children. Meredith Williams, 13, led an assembly line of youngsters bagging laundry detergent "for people who need to come here and do their laundry." Meredith asked her grandmother, Marge Matulonis, who volunteers regularly, to bring her back every week this summer.

No job was too menial, tedious or arduous. Volunteers clipped coupons, scoured porcelain and repaired concrete.

"The whole point is we are giving back to the community," said Mike Kelly.

Pub Date: 6/25/98

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