A couple weeks ago, after a series of rainy days, my husband was attempting to mow the lawn. He was struggling because the grass had grown so much since the last mowing. The neighbor stopped by and asked if he could help. He has a riding lawnmower that easily cuts even long grass. We accepted his offer and plan to pay him back with an invitation to dinner. Today’s organization is enabling neighbors to help other neighbors even if they cannot directly witness the need.
In 2003, John Barce and Doug Crane participated in a competition called Leadership Fort Wayne. Their idea to create a web platform to connect volunteers with people in need received second place in the competition and the NeighborLink model was born. Since 2003, similar platforms have been created in nine other cities using the same model.
NeighborLink uses a web platform to connect vulnerable homeowners including the aging, people with disabilities, and low income single parents, with volunteers who would like to help. The volunteers typically help with home repair or yard work projects. In addition, they encourage volunteers to build relationships with the recipients of their help. NeighborLink’s goal is not only completion of the projects, but also developing a sustainable solution for community development by connecting neighbors.
NeighborLink is a Christian, faith-based organization with a mission of “practical, neighbor-to-neighbor expressions of God’s love.” They frequently work with churches but appreciate and welcome volunteers from a variety of backgrounds. They are currently in nine locations: Fort Wayne, Indiana; Indianapolis, Indiana; DeKalb County, Indiana; Porter County, Indiana; Liberty County, Georgia; Van Wert County, Ohio; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Owensboro, Kentucky; and Evansville, Indiana.
One NeighborLink volunteer named Andrew volunteered, along with a small group, to help Jean paint her house one summer. During that project, Andrew was made aware that she also needed assistance with other projects from a long list of code violations. He was able to raise funds to make repairs to her porch. Just before Christmas, Andrew stopped by with a basket of food and learned that Jean’s son had just passed away. Andrew continued to show Jean love and support by mowing her lawn and helping with other tasks in the years that followed. This relationship encouraged Andrew’s involvement with NeighborLink and he eventually became the organization’s Executive Director. This willingness to continue helping and desire to get to know her better instead of just completing the project at hand is the type of relationship that NeighborLink strives for.
How can you help?
Any individual in the cities that NeighborLink exists in can get involved. Individuals simply register to be a volunteer on the NeighborLink website for their city. You can find the current cities on their affiliate and non-affiliate pages. Once registered, volunteers can look through current projects and choose one. There are also opportunities for groups to do projects together.
You can also make a monetary donation through any of the specific city NeighborLink websites.