I (Brett) caught a bug from my grandfather (Dairl).
For as long as I can remember, his garage has been filled with dozens of mowers, trimmers, leaf blowers, snow blowers, and anything else with a small engine. He simply couldn’t bear to see perfectly good equipment thrown away or left out to decay, especially when the vast majority of them only needed simple fixes. Too many folks in the community were down on their luck and could really use a mower. He stepped into that gap.
He was well known in the community to begin with, but this hobby made matters “worse”. In addition, he was/is known to mow and shovel half his side of town for anyone that couldn’t do it themselves. Word spread, and equipment kept showing up. If you had a mower you weren’t using or you couldn’t get to start, take it to Dairl. If you had an unused mower visible in your yard, Dairl might ask to use it or trade for it. If you needed something with an engine, start by asking Dairl.
For his family members, he always made it known that buying new equipment shouldn’t even be considered as an option. He had us covered. And he would frequently check in to make sure things were running properly.
After getting involved with a few nonprofit organizations in Fort Wayne that provided volunteer home improvement and yard work, I started seeing a similar set of situations come up all the time:
- Neighbors that were willing to give equipment they no longer used, either because they weren’t able to physically or minor repairs were needed.
- Partners willing to pitch in and donate equipment or parts that could be used by someone else.
- A loss of “do it yourselfers” in the community, resulting in lots of equipment set on the curb for trash pickup day.
- Neighbors that would be able to tackle the outdoor work on their own, if they had the tools.
- A loss of “help thy neighbor” attitudes throughout the area.
I’m a software engineer by trade and am passionate about that gig, but can’t stand sitting inside all day. A “good day” is defined by being able to fix or build something with my hands.
And that’s the “story”. The rest of it is simply starting to take in equipment, fix it, and give it away. We’re able to find a steady stream on our own, but we also partner with other organizations in the area.
Why do we do what we do? Faith. As Christians, literally everything we do in this life should point to our Creator and the joy we have knowing what Christ gave us. It’s the core of who we are and defines how we view things. That faith should manifest itself as loving and serving all neighbors. So although it might seem silly that we act out our faith by “dropping off mowers”, it’s our way to build relationships with neighbors and serve the community. We’re not a charity, and folks we serve are not recipients of handouts. We’re neighbors. That’s how it’s supposed to be.