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Realtors spend the day assisting Lowcountry residents with home repairs

They should have called it "Realtors doing really hard work."

A group of 55 members of the Hilton Head Area Association of Realtors picked up paint brushes, hoisted leaf blowers, grabbed rakes and used other tools one day last week to help five Lowcountry homeowners who needed work done on their property. The project was called "Realtors Helping Real People."

"I'm dripping with sweat and I'm exhausted--and I'm in shape," said Ann Marie Jenkins, a mortgage lender who did yardwork at a home in North Forest Beach.

Jenkins and Realtors Ann Eden and Cindy Creamer had taken two large pick-up truck loads of yard debris to the Dillon Road dump by the time they broke for lunch. A third load waited for them in the truck.

Karen Ryan, the 2011 Realtors' association president, and Jean Beck, the group's executive vice president, brought sandwiches for the women.

From early morning to late afternoon, volunteers worked on houses on Hilton Head Island, in Bluffton and in Pritchardville. On the island, the group partnered with Deep Well and on the mainland with Bluffton Self Help. After the non-profit organizations selected the homeowners who would receive help, members of the Realtors' Association met with the homeowners to find out what they needed done, said Realtor Liz Gillespie, who helped organize the event. The volunteers weren't authorized to do electrical work or plumbing, but were up for almost anything else, Ryan said.

Grayco Building C., H&B Trim, HH Glass and Floors to Go donated services and supplies.

Besty Doughtie, executive director of Deep Well, said those who were helped included a widow who can't do yard work due to poor health; a disabled woman who lives in a mobile home at the end of a long drive where bushes make the drive impassible; and a man who lives in a mobile home owned by Deep Well. The home's interior needed painting and the volunteers applied colors chosen by the tenant, she said.

"We certainly hope this event is repeated. It's wonderful that volunteers will come out and help them," Doughtie said.

The work day was organized by the community service committee at the Realtors' association, which is headed by Gloria LaCoe. Ryan said LaCoe delivered a cake, a welcome mat and a plant to each home owner.

On the mainland, representatives of Jerry Davis Builders replaced the trim on a home in Pritchardville, where exterior woodwork was rotting. Also in Bluffton, a team which included Realtors Ricardo Pecora and Angela Mullis and banker Janice Robinson painted Willie Mae Mitchell's porch, trimmed the bushes in her yard, and bought her a new washing machine because hers was broken. Mitchell, who is 84 and a widow, said the volunteers were brightening an otherwise difficult day for her, as one of her two sons accompanied his brother to a cancer treatment.

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