July 15, 2014 | 12:04 PMJeff Darling stood in his front yard July 9, smiling as three men installed a storm door at the entrance to his home. “I’m handicapped, and I can’t do a lot myself,” he said. “It’s just amazing that they’d do something like this.”
The men — Dick Peacock, William Radwell and Mark Greisz — are volunteers in Trinity Church’s annual ReachOUT project. Peacock is co-director of the project, along with Leif Anderson.
“We discovered, Dick and I, that once you work on this project, you get 10 times more than what you give,” said Anderson.
Last week, project volunteers performed work at seven local properties, such as Darling’s, where he and his family have lived since 1978.
“It’s based on need, need meaning are you able to do the work yourself?” said Anderson, of how one qualifies to benefit from ReachOUT. “Do you have relatives who can do it? Because, if you do, then we try to get them to do the work. Jeff doesn’t. … He’s been taking care of the community for years. It’s time he gets something back.”
Many people know Darling, who lives on a street named after his grandfather, Joe, not far from the baseball field that’s also named after him, Darling Field.
Joe Darling was a postmaster in Genoa City, and one of the three people credited for organizing the Genoa City Recreation Program. Jeff said his dad, James, also was involved in the program and ran the concession stand.
“At my dad’s funeral, I said I was a Cubs fan because my dad was a Cubs fan,” said Jeff. “If they won, he was in a good mood, and if they didn’t, he was in a bad mood. There weren’t a lot of days when he was in a good mood.”
But Jeff also shared a more positive memory about his dad, who liked everybody even if they didn’t like him. “I thought, ‘What a philosophy to have.’”
Jeff said he became a coach for the Genoa City Recreation program from 1966 to about 1993.
He also coached at Brookwood. In fact, it was his love of coaching — and baseball — that inspired him to become a teacher, which it what he was for more than 30 years. He retired in 2002.
Although Darling can’t lift a door anymore, he’s still actively involved in the community. He’s helping out with Trinity’s vacation Bible school, and also delivers for the Meals On Wheels program.
People like Anderson and Peacock said the greatest parts of participating in ReachOUT are meeting the people, their families, and helping them. “It’s just that you’re doing something really good for people, helping them, and it doesn’t cost them anything,” said Peacock.
Previously, only Bloomfield residents outside the church could be helped during ReachOUT. Now, all Bloomfield residents can benefit, including Radwell. One of the ReachOUT projects was clearing his own Pell Lake property, which had vegetation about 3 feet thick. Radwell couldn’t cut it all down himself, said Anderson. “We hacked down a jungle,” he chuckled.
They also repaired a roof and repainted the exterior of a home belonging to a woman taking care of her grandson.
Anderson, Peacock and Radwell said the Trinity men’s group took over the project since the person who started it — former Trinity discipleship director/current Pastor Tom De Groot — is now at St. John’s Lutheran Church, Elkhorn.
“We didn’t want this to die out,” said Anderson.
The number of people volunteering for work has gone down.
Last week, there were about 18 volunteers. In 2009, there were more than 65. However, Peacock said Trinity’s youth group came out one day to help on a painting project.
Not all of the volunteers are local. Greisz, of Venice, Fla., who runs a construction business there, said he has helped ReachOUT for the past four or five years, whenever he’s in the area visiting his children and grandchildren.
“If they happen to be doing this while I’m here, I give a hand while I can. It’s what I do,” Greisz said.
In addition to looking for more volunteers, Peacock and Anderson said they’re also looking for more projects they can do for people, not just during that one week in July when, for the last seven years, ReachOUT has officially occurred.
“We’d like to hear from people right now,” Anderson said. For more information, call Trinity at (262) 279-3052 or Anderson at (888) 214-7614.