A garden of nurturing

EVERETT — Elaine and George Bogart never thought that their home would become homework.

For the last 36 years, the Bogarts have raised a family in the single-story house off 20th Street. Because of construction, their home is surrounded by orange safety cones, concrete barriers and paving equipment — Bogart says the work shakes her house so bad that her “whole kitchen begins to vibrate.”

Yet behind the roadwork detritus is a smaller project that’s teaching third-graders at a Lake Stevens school the importance of reaching out to the community.

“For the last four years I’ve been involved in the Hillcrest Elementary ASB and this year the kids have been especially determined to do some sort of community service,” said teacher and ASB adviser Darlene Moe. “They wanted an outreach, and so here we are — and these students are real go-getters.”

More than 15 students prowled the yard with rakes, shovels and clippers as they gave the yard a much needed sprucing up. They pushed wheelbarrows full of beauty bark and pulled bags full of yard waste — the kids were determined to honor someone who had done so much for them.

“Mrs. Bogart has been a volunteer for 40 years at Hillcrest and we wanted to give back,” said Macy Nelson. “This is a way to help reward people for what they do.”

Macy, 8, of Lake Stevens, is the secretary for the Hillcrest Elementary ASB. Like all her fellow volunteers, muddy knees, runny noses and dirt-streaked faces were part of the uniform of the day. Their hard work was interrupted by Bogart, who set out a card table with cookies and hot cocoa for the children and coffee for the adults.

“We bought beauty bark, 250 bulbs and a bench,” Macy said. “Plus we’re going to rake her yard and fix her trees.”

Bogart’s volunteer work at Hillcrest Elementary is simple: read stories to the class, run errands for teachers, and sometimes help with testing — three days a week for four hours.

“I love it, volunteering. I get paid with hugs,” she said. “I’ve always loved kids. Though I’ve only had three of my own, I consider these kids to be family.”

As Bogart stood on her driveway looking back at the kids as they worked, she smiled and remarked, “This is incredible — it all looks so much better. I’m going to have to keep reminding myself that this is where I live.”

Reporter Justin Arnold: 425-339-3432 or jarnold@heraldnet.com.

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