For the student members of the Culver Keepers Club, the ultimate payoff came when Chris Sheppard’s granddaughter ran with joy through the yard squealing with delight at how much she liked the landscaping and fresh look.
Six Academies cadets spent four days in late July working on Sheppard’s West Jefferson Street property in Culver – staining two decks, painting the foundation, landscaping, edging, mulching, cleaning gutters, cutting back overgrowth along a fencerow, replanting and planting shrubs and flowers, and installing paver stones.
“The work impacted (Sheppard’s) family as well. It set well with us,” said Perley Provost ’14 (South Bend, Ind.), who captained the group.
“It was an amazing feel good thing – for them and for me,” said Sheppard, who happens to be the supervisor of the Academies post office. “It is very humbling that these young men would help someone in need. My yard really needed it.”
Founded in the spring of 2012 by six cadets, the Culver Keepers Club is a community-based program that identifies local residents who are in need of home repair (interior or exterior). A panel of students comprises a Board of Review that reviews anonymous applications. The homeowner selected becomes a member of the Culver Keepers Club and is required to actively participate in the process from start to finish.
Faculty supervisor Emily Uebler said “the sustainability of this group is what sets it apart from other senior service projects in an impactful way.”
Provost and Jack Slifer ’14 (Carmel, Ind.) got involved last year, learning the ropes and paperwork involved, then recruited two seniors and two juniors , who will be able to perpetuate the effort. Provost and Slifer’s involvement also doubled as their required Senior Leadership Practicum.
Joining this year were Colin Dean ’15 (Madison, Wis.), Reece McColly-Fleener ’14 (Munster), Alexander Posner ’14 (Schwenksville, Pa.), and Holland Thornton ’15 (McClean, Va.).
Provost said the Keepers grew out of a desire to forge a better relationship between the Academies and the Culver community with Academies students providing “the dirty work” for deserving residents.
According to the mission statement, the Keepers “hope to uplift the community through a spirit of collaboration . . . and to create an understanding that everyone, regardless of background, deserves a place to call home,”
The students spent the week at “Hotel Provost” in South Bend, working from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday. They took Wednesday off, which was Provost’s birthday, and went to Cedar Point in Ohio.
The students funded the project by working the baseball concession stand in May, plus a $500 donation (The donor got her yard landscaped in return). Expenses included concession supplies, labor supplies, fuel, and meals. Sheppard’s out-of-pocket expenses were $295 for paint, stain, scrapers, and cleaning supplies.
Provost said it was a treat “to see the improvements day by day, and for Ms. Sheppard to come home from work and see what had been accomplished. We changed how the home looked, inside and out.”
In four days the boys did what would’ve taken Sheppard all summer, if not longer, and saved her hundreds of dollars if she had hired the work to be done. Now, she’s in a position to be able to keep up with the yard work.
She provided a list of what she would like accomplished, “but by no means did I expect them to do it all.”
Provost said the Keepers were “willing to work hard and step up for the job they were chosen for. And it really paid off in the end.”