WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) — Residents in Wichita’s District III neighborhood are making life a little easier for neighbors fighting their own battles.
For the past year and a half, southside resident Richard Ruth and a team of volunteers he recruits have used their weekends to address residential issues that might typically result in citations and court appearances. Ruth and the crew make the necessary changes to the property before that resident faces disciplinary action, in turn, building relationships.
“The community is there, the ties that bind us are there, it’s just not always activated,” Ruth explains.
Ruth looks at the list of people needing help put out by the Metropolitan Area Building and Construction Department. He then assesses the property’s needs himself and finally puts a call to help on the Neighbors Indeed Facebook page, recruiting people with various talents.
Back in February, Ruth and the crew made progress on a property on South Pattie street. The home had an excessive storage situation spilling outside the home and impacting the people who lived there after a relative passed away. Their cleanup efforts got the property back up to speed.
“It’s really transformative to go and help someone even though its not solving the core problem, the root problem, it brings relief,” Ruth told KSN.
It all began when Ruth volunteered to join others on a cleanup in town. While there, working alongside the person in need, Ruth says he heard some of her story and was moved by the challenges she was facing and her struggle to resolve them.
“There was so much sadness in her voice even though she was putting on a good face. Other than the three of us that showed up, she was unknown and alone in the world, trying to solve a problem that really needed the help of others to resolve,” Ruth said.
Over time, Ruth realized that different individual’s struggles had a domino effect that ends in visible property issues. But most times, the root is in struggles with their health or finances or lacking resources altogether.
Over the summer, the group painted and repaired a porch on a home owned by an elderly couple. Following a stroke, the wife faced balance issues, the husband undergoing chemotherapy for his cancer. The couples’ home was flagged, causing the man to go to court and inform a judge where he was on the repairs.
A mutual contact in the Hilltop neighborhood was able to bring Ruth and crew to get the house painted, freeing the couple of that worry.
Ruth reports, the beneficiaries of the help by “Neighbors Indeed” are often visibly relaxed when the work is done, after the prospect of court fines or jail time has been lifted.
Rather than being a non-profit, Ruth wants to keep building the movement based on neighborly rapport and goodwill. His next goal is to get more Neighborhood Associations involved.
“I’ve asked my neighbors to join me and they have responded time and time again,” Ruth said.
Ruth says they are able to help out most Saturdays. Volunteer opportunities are posted on Neighbors Indeed Facebook page.
“We are all eminently well-qualified to be good neighbors,” Ruth said.