Bill, left, and Pat Williams in the back yard of their West Chester Twp. home. The couple has utilized the RASKALS (Random Acts of Simple Kindness Affecting Local Seniors) program for several years to help rake leaves and do yard clean up. RASKALS is a community service program matching local senior citizens with volunteer teams to complete simple yard clean-up chores. NICK GRAHAM/STAFF

Volunteers and seniors benefit from RASKALS program

Groups of volunteers team up to rake leaves, clean gutters, even change hard-to-reach light bulbs for senior citizens. The township has about 64 seniors who have projects that need doing, and township spokeswoman Barb Wilson said they will need a “couple hundred” people willing to roll up their sleeves and get to work on May 6.

RELATED: Volunteers needed for annual clean-up day

Mike Ranochak has been a RASKALS volunteer for five years. His weekday work is at a job placement agency, and in addition to wanting to give back to the community he has lived in his entire life, he finds it a good networking opportunity.

“Helping other people like that is a really cool thing to do and helping folks in the West Chester/Liberty area is nice,” he said. “In addition it’s a really good forum on a personal level for networking. Getting to know the different people in the business community, because people really let their guard down and they’re more willing to open up and have honest conversations about life and things like that when they are out raking leaves.”

Pat Williams, the township’s longtime fiscal officer, remembers when the RASKALS program started in 1996. A mother and her daughter brought the idea to the township trustees, she said.

Williams, 94, and her husband, Bill, have benefited from the clean-up program for about 15 years, she said.

“They’re all very nice when they come, it’s always somebody different,” Williams said. “Last year we had a Girl Scout Troop and the lady who was in charge was really in charge. She had those girls just really doing their job.”

The biggest help they get is clearing the leaves and other debris out of their flower beds and around the house.

”We look forward to it, to see some young people around,” she said.

Wilson said the the fall volunteer event is usually bigger, with as many as 80 clients and 200 to 300 volunteers. The RASKALS program is valuable for the seniors and the volunteers alike, she said.

“The senior citizen clients and volunteers gain equal measure of benefit from the program. The seniors have yard chores completed, which allows them to maintain their homes, and the volunteers make new friends among their team mates and with those they are helping,” Wilson said. “It is difficult to give up a Saturday in our busy lives, but clients and volunteers alike seem to end the day feeling a little better about the world.”

Wilson said they will be accepting volunteers right up until May 6. Volunteer information can be found on the township’s website at www.westchesteroh.org.

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