New Piqua group aims to help citizens in need


PIQUA — When Joe Wilson was helping clear out debris and clean up the Trotwood area following the Memorial Day tornadoes in 2019, he knew he wanted to bring that helping hand back to the Piqua community.

“While I was doing this, I kept thinking, ‘Why can’t I do this in the city where I live to help people closer to my home?’ That kind of made me start thinking about what we did before and what we could do in the future. That’s kind of how it all got started again,” Wilson said.

In the early 90s, a version of Neighbors Helping Neighbors was present in the Piqua community, then called “Renew Piqua” in which volunteers — such as Wilson, who has since served on many committees in the city and previously served as a city commissioner — met at residences around the city to help with painting houses. Neighbors Helping Neighbors is specifically designed to help take care of landscaping and yard work for citizens who have trouble tending to such duties around their property, due to physical health and wellness or an inability to afford services.

“The purpose of the group is twofold: initially, it’s to help people in need who can’t help themselves, whether it’s money related or their health, and to see their reaction when they get this kind of help is really amazing. The other thing is, the people who actually do the work sometimes get as much out of it as the people who receive the work. I think, if we can start giving people the help a little more and make it more of a habit, we’ll get more help to the people who need it,” Wilson said.

Neighbors Helping Neighbors was initially supposed to start in 2020, but plans to launch the program were interrupted due to the pandemic and state health orders at the time. Wilson didn’t give up on the idea, and he reached out to the city to get an idea of what he needed to do in order to get the group off the ground once things began returning to normal. Wilson said that City Planner Kyrsten French was a large help in connecting him to the resources needed, including getting in contact with the Neighborhood Improvement Corporation to gauge interest.

“It seemed like a really good fit. I talked to them about taking this on, with them kind of being the steering committee and then this would be a new activity for them to manage and get involved with. They agreed that it made sense to do it,” Wilson said.

This Saturday, Oct. 16, Neighbors Helping Neighbors will be meeting at 233 First St. at 8:30 a.m. to help a Piqua citizen clean up around her back yard, which Wilson said is overgrown with trees, bushes and weeds. Volunteers will be trimming back the trees and bushes, and Wilson said that the idea is for the group to do things that anyone can do — while the group won’t be fixing roofs or redoing bricks, maintaining lawn care and trimming shrubbery is perfectly in-bounds.

“We want to keep it pretty simple, so that almost anyone who wants to help can do it,” Wilson said.

The first citizen that Neighbors Helping Neighbors is assisting is an elderly woman who Wilson has helped travel to and from doctor’s appointments, and someone he knew was in need of the extra help. When he approached her about the program and the offer to help, he said her reaction was overwhelming.

“She almost started crying. She’s been trying to get someone to help her with her yard for a good part of the year, and she just couldn’t find anyone to give her some help. It was beyond anything she could do, so it was kind of a nice reaction, and she’s really excited about getting people over there to get her yard in shape,” Wilson said.

With the first project underway, Wilson said that there are requirements to qualify for help from Neighbors Helping Neighbors. Those receiving help must own the home and property receiving help, the property must be within Piqua City limits, and those receiving help must fall within a certain income bracket so that those receiving help are getting help they wouldn’t otherwise be able to afford.

“That’s what we’re looking for — people who can’t afford to get that done themselves or can’t do it themselves,” Wilson said.

There are no restrictions to volunteers, and those interested in helping out with Saturday’s clean-up can contact Wilson at 937-778-0390 or the Neighborhood Improvement Corporation.

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