South Whidbey’s 2016 ‘Hearts and Hammers’ Helps Rehab 33 Homes

Posted in Community, Feature, More Stories, Photo essay

Whidbey Life Magazine Contributor
May 11, 2016

Saturday, May 7, dawned bright and clear for the 23rd Annual Hearts and Hammers workday.

Almost 400 volunteers congregated at South Whidbey High School for breakfast and last-minute instruction before dispersing to 33 homesites from Greenbank to Clinton. Needed repairs or modifications included new decks, safety rails, access ramps, windows, roofs and yard cleanup.

Hearts and Hammers was founded by Lynn Willeford in 1994. The Hearts and Hammers model has since spread to central Whidbey and to communities across the country. This year Willeford hosted visitors interested in introducing Hearts and Hammers to the San Juan Islands, taking them to eight worksites.

Services and materials are donated or provided at cost. Red Cross representatives installed fire alarms and woodchuckers split aged treefall and then delivered firewood to many other homeowners not on the jobsite list. Curt Gordon of Island Asphalt & Sitework and his crew hauled tons of yard waste and discarded appliances to Island Disposal. Most importantly, but often overlooked and not talked about, were porta-potties provided by Gabelein Brothers Septic.  At the end of the day crews returned for a dinner prepared by local chefs and other volunteers with culinary skills, sharing their experiences and celebrating with music from the Open Circle Community Chorus.

It took a team of photographers to document all of these widespread activities. David Welton, his intern Emily Alexander and Marsha Morgan from Whidbey Life Magazine participated. Commercial photographers Jim Carroll and Kim Tinuviel have generously donated their images to Hearts and Hammers for promotional purposes. Hearts and Hammers board member Dyanne Sheldon photographed the northern most site, where she was a co-captain.

Below are a few selected photographs. Others will soon be posted at
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Christine Epstein, “The Queen Bee” (as indicated on her hat), cheerfully greets and instructs the legion of attentive volunteers during breakfast at South Whidbey High School.  (Photo by David Welton)

Measure twice before cutting with the circular saw.  (Photo by Jim Carroll,

A cat anticipates a new deck to bask in the sun with a happy homeowner.  (Photo by Jim Carroll,

Sebo’s Do-It Center, Hanson’s Building Supply and Ace Hardware in Freeland were among the the many building material suppliers.  (Photo by Jim Carroll,

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A scaffold is prepared to access a log cabin.  (Photo by Jim Carroll,

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Faye Castle pulls weeds with a smile.  (Photo by Marsha Morgan)

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Installing new exterior siding.  (Photo by Marsha Morgan)

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A lot of pine needles were cleared from the roof of a house in the forest.  (Photo by Marsha Morgan)

The best time to work on a roof is at first light.  (Photo by Emily Alexander)


Some homeowners participated in the construction project. Edith provides nutritional support.  (Photo by Emily Alexander)

An “Amazing Angel” upgrades the floor and plumbing in a log cabin laundry room.  (Photo by Emily Alexander)


Happy homeowners thank the Hearts and Hammers crew.  (Photo by Kim Tinuviel,


People with specific experience and skills offer their time, as do people who offer what they can do with their hearts and hands. (Photo by Kim Tinuviel,
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Nora Anderson plans to thank jobsite captain Clayton Granby and crew with a party for “giving her life back” after clearing her half-acre yard of aggressive blackberries and repairing her roof.  (Photo by David Welton)

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Sunscreen, a floppy hat and a shady place to help are all this volunteer needs to be happy.  (Photo by David Welton)


“We had an amazing crew and a stupendous homeowner, Sheri Faucher,” said co-captain, Dyanne Sheldon. Three wheelchair ramps were updated and/or replaced and a new deck added, from which Faucher can look out over her new raised garden beds protected from grazing deer. “She’s SO happy!!” Sheldon added.  (Photo by Dyanne Sheldon)

All of the Kitchen Crew greeted workers with a smile. (Photo by Jim Carroll,

The Kitchen Crew whistled while they worked two shifts. They were led by Des Rock and Barton Cole.  (Photo by Jim Carroll,

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Peggy Taylor conducts the Open Circle Community Chorus to welcomes dinner guests with songs of peace, beauty and social justice.  (Photo by David Welton)

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Singers entertain the crew at the end of the day. (Photo by David Welton)

David Welton is a retired physician and staff photographer for Whidbey Life magazine.


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  1. Thanks so much to all of the most wonderful volunteers who gave their time, energy, skills, and heart to a very successful 23rd Hearts and Hammers Workday. I don’t know who benefits more, the homeowners, the volunteers (who all seem to complete the workdays energized and elated), or the community. Our community grows a bit more cohesive, connected and mutually supportive each year Hearts and Hammers is in action.

    And a special thanks also to the team of skilled photographers ably let by David Welton once again.

    Hearts and Hammers was founded in 1994 by Lynn Willeford and Richard Merrill.

    Thanks again to our homeowners who invited a group of strangers into their homes and gave us their trust and warmth.

    And thanks again to Whidbey Island, our one-of-a-kind community.

    Christine Epstein, 2016 Workday “Queen Bee”
    Member, Hearts and Hammers Board of Directors

  2. How inspiring and beautiful to read about this delightful event and see the excellent photos of everyone hard at work (or smiling at the results). Once again, Whidbey Life Magazine hits the nail on the head highlighting the unique sweetness and kindness that mark Whidbey Island as a special, magical place. Loved the great photo of our pal, Christine Nyberg Epstein, leading the pack! A big piece of our hearts is still on the island.

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