EVERETT — Jeanette Runnelf is 85 years old with bad knees and bad hips. Her arthritis makes it impossible to maintain the garden that she began 20 years ago.
“I used to do it all by myself,” she said. “I just can’t do it anymore.”
Runnelf says her garden has about every kind of flower
possible — at least one flower in bloom every month and a garden of fruits and vegetables.
She didn’t know how the gardening was going to get done.
As part of a one-week service program through the Archdiocese of Seattle, a group of youth volunteered to clean her yard — an opportunity to help those in need and grow in faith.
“It’s a way to show the kids different aspects of the needs of the community,” said Kelly Lake, a chaperone from St. Andrews Catholic Church in Sumner. “It teaches the value of service.”
Runnelf has been a member of the Everett Garden Club since 1978 and knows that it can be difficult to restore a yard after it has been unkempt for so long.
“That’s hard work digging that stuff up,” she said. “They just got right to it.”
The kids filled more than a dozen garbage bags with weeds during the six hours they were there.
Fifteen-year-old Jonathan Ramous of Buckley said the work was much harder than he thought it would be. Most of the kids were from the area near Bonney Lake in eastern Pierce County.
“It was really, really hard,” he said. “But now she can plant whatever she wants.”
The group emptied and cleaned two ponds in Runnelf’s yard and uncovered a bird bath fountain under the bushes.
“There are beautiful plants and flowers, but they were buried,” Lake said.
Runnelf was impressed by the end of the day.
“It was really nice what they did,” she said. “They did great.”
Lindsylee Wheadon: 425-339-3453; firstname.lastname@example.org.