Life has been hectic lately for Doris Fearon of Bowie.
In March, her husband, Leonard Fearon, was diagnosed with cancer, and earlier this month he was placed on a ventilator because of complications from an unsuccessful attempt to remove the cancerous mass.
Since her husband’s diagnosis, Doris Fearon and her family have spent many days shuttling between Leonard’s room in the intensive care unit at Holy Cross Hospital in Silver Spring and their home in the 16000 block of Philmont Lane. Yard work — such as pulling weeds and cutting grass and vines — fell behind as the family couldn’t find the time to address them.
But last week, Doris Fearon said she came home to find a “blessing.”
StreetReach, a Christian outreach program based in Bowie, spent three days cutting the Fearons’ lawn, trimming the trees, planting flowers, and providing a host of other free support to her family.
“I was just overwhelmed with what was happening,” Doris Fearon said. “I can’t say enough about Bowie [Street]Reach.”
Her home was one of 45 aided by about 40 volunteers during a mission trip in Bowie that ran July 9 to July 14.
The outreach effort, which costs about $6,000 for supplies, food and other items, is a partnership between the Mount Oak Fellowship, a Methodist church in Mitchellville, and Turn On the Light-Bowie, an interchurch support and outreach group. Beyond those two organizations, funding for the effort comes from the $125 registration fee that each volunteer pays, donations from businesses and about $900 in supplies and resources from the city of Bowie, said Jonathan Brooker, youth pastor at Mount Oak Fellowship and the coordinator of this year’s StreetReach effort.
The 45 homes that were aided marked a high for the roughly 5-year-old program, which usually assists about 30 homes in Bowie per year, Brooker said.
“It’s been incredible the responses we’ve gotten from neighbors,” he said.
The program selected a section of Bowie to focus on providing aid, then sent fliers to area homes in advance of the drive. Brooker said support was offered to any home that requested it.
The work was performed by about 30 or so school-age youths from Mount Oak Fellowship, who were assisted by about 10 adult volunteers who helped lead the teams sent out across the city.
On July 14, work for Aliyah Blow, 14, and her friend, Logan McCusker, 15, involved clearing branches, leaves, pinecones and other debris from a home in the 2200 block of Penfield Lane in Bowie.
“It’s hard work, but it’s fun,” Blow said.
Participants camped out inside the Mount Oak Fellowship church at night and started work around 9 a.m. each day.
Having the children live and work together was part of the outreach effort’s mission, Brooker said.
“When they get to hang out and be together [24 hours per day] it allows for a whole other sense of bonding and fellowship we wouldn’t have if we sent them all home,” Brooker said.
In the evenings, the group had events such as movie nights or Nerf gun fights.
“Every day, we’re working, and every night, we’re having some sort of event,” said Gary Thomas, 16, of Bowie.
The event also teaches a bit of patience, as friends find themselves having to work with one another for hours on end, he said.
“You really get close to people,” Thomas said.
Going forward, the group hopes to involve other Bowie churches to expand the number of homes the program can reach, Brooker said.
Now that the program has wrapped up until next July, residents will have to work to maintain the improvements. The Fearon family won’t let the progress go, said Donna Fearon, Doris Fearon’s daughter.
“We’ve got to get out here somehow and spray [weed killer],” Donna Fearon said. “You definitely can’t let this go.”