Lise O’Neal knows first-hand that getting projects done around the house doesn’t get easier with age.
Simple chores like cleaning out gutters or raking away piles of dead leaves and branches in the fall can be next to impossible for seniors and others with mobility issues. Finding a reasonably priced handyman for minor repairs like mending a broken gate or a couple leaky windows can be very difficult.
Every year, the Dodge City Community College baseball team does what it can to alleviate some of those difficulties as it coordinates with the Ford County Retired and Senior Volunteer Program for its annual Fall Cleanup Day.
The team’s contribution to the community is invaluable, according to O’Neal, the RSVP director. Often, essential maintenance can be left undone for years because seniors may be simply unable to physically get to it – something O’Neal experiences herself.
"I’m getting old and slow, too," she said. "It’s amazing to see those kids in action when they’re all working together. They just get through the work fast. I spend more time looking at a job and thinking about it than it takes them to get it done."
The team will be out Sunday, Nov. 11, with a slate of at least 17 homes to visit.
O’Neal and Stephenson said the team has the time and manpower to help out more residents.
Seniors who would like some Conq baseball players to come help out around their home can call O’Neal at the RSVP offices at 620-227-7077.
In coordinating with the Conq baseball team, RSVP helps establish a personal, community connection with students whose own communities and families are time zones away.
The need for the team’s Cleanup Day continues, O’Neal said, because a senior who can’t climb a ladder this fall probably won’t be able to climb that ladder next fall either.
"Many thanks to Coach Stephenson, because I know that many people are aware of what they do and have come to sort of count on it," she said. "It’s definitely something people need and very much appreciate."
Stephenson began Fall Cleanup Day when he came to the college 14 years ago.
The team has worked on as many as 40-plus homes on a given day, and has performed work at the Kansas Soldier’s Home at Fort Dodge.
The Conquistador players always respond well to the community, according to O’Neal.
"It’s really good for them to get out and see the need for what they do," she said. "They are always so respectful and pleasant and they seem genuinely happy to do it."
Stephenson said it’s not easy to pry college kids out of bed on a chilly autumn mornings, but his players always rally and get out to support those in need.
"A lot of these folks have supported the college as taxpayers for a long time," Stephenson said, "so this is a nice way to give back to the community. It’s good for our guys to see that there are people out here that need a little help. We get the opportunity to do some good things for people and don’t expect a thing in return."
RSVP provides opportunities for seniors to stay active in the community – helping out other seniors and folks who may be in need.
The Ford County RSVP program was launched in the spring of 1974 as a vehicle for retired individuals to serve community needs and fellow seniors. Dodge City Community College has been the sponsoring agency for the majority of the organization’s existence.