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Creating a movement of ‘good neighbors’

Hundreds to volunteer during Be A Tool’s Day of Service this September


People love to help out their community.

And the closer to home that help is, “the more of an impact it seems to have,” Arvada resident Todd Gurney said.

That’s where Be a Tool comes into the picture. The annual Day of Service run by Neighborhood Rehab Project is expected to draw 800 volunteers to do home fix-ups and repairs in their communities this month.

The Day of Service takes place Sept. 9 in Golden, Englewood and Idaho Springs and Sept. 16 in Arvada.

Be a Tool founder Dan Thoemke started Be A Tool Day of Service seven years ago in Golden. Last year, Arvada and Englewood joined, followed this year by Idaho Springs.

“It’s super-exciting to see the model and idea spread into the hands of very gifted, passionate people in other cities in the metro area,” Thoemke said. “We love to share the vision and model, and then step back and watch it go.”

In addition to the one day of service in September, Golden and Arvada also have been conducting one-day projects, or mini days of service, throughout the year.

Projects for Be A Tool Day of Service range from yard cleanup and painting to replacement of stairs or handrails. The mini Day of Service projects are generally larger, such as replacing roofs, decks, water heaters and furnaces, Thoemke said.

A mini Day of Service in Arvada, for instance, took on a request from Arvada-based nonprofit Colorado Homeless Families, which had nine deck projects, Gurney said. The first two were completed during Arvada’s inaugural Day of Service on Sept. 10 last year, then two more on a mini Day of Service in December, and the remaining five during a mini day in May.

“Arvada is a giving community,” Gurney said. “The people care about their neighbors. The businesses care. It’s a big city with small-town love.”

In Golden, the mini days happen on a need-based occurrence, but generally projects take place just about every month, Thoemke said.

People love to meet the homeowners and the families they’re helping. “Those connections with the homeowner are a big deal,” he said.

Such as with Kay Krattli, a 75-year-old longtime Golden resident.

In January 2016, Krattli had a stroke, which left her with limited mobility — she has to use a walker to get around. Her hands also don’t work well anymore, she said.

“I really can’t do much,” Krattli said. “Especially none of the outside stuff.”

Be A Tool has sent groups of volunteers to do yardwork and replace her walkway.

“They work really hard, and they’ve been very helpful,” Krattli said. “I’m overcome with gratitude. It’s truly a blessing.”

Volunteers also replaced her leaking roof last year during the Day of Service when her insurance wouldn’t cover the cost, she said.

“Neighbors are the true first responders when things break, need repaired or a disaster happens,” Thoemke said. “This is what we are calling communities back to — neighbors helping neighbors.”

Talks about bringing Be A Tool’s Day of Service to other cities metro-wide are already happening, Thoemke said.

“We will continue to expand into cities who invite us to help,” Thoemke said. “We are creating a movement that we feel, at its purest level, helps people in cities all over be good neighbors.”


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