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MAKING A MARK: Emanuel's Hope Foundation helps senior citizens one lawn at a time

Yard work can be a challenge for senior citizens, especially those with limited mobility. Emanuel's Hope Foundation offers free lawn care service to seniors.

PORTSMOUTH, Va. — 93-year-old Margarette Patton lives in Portsmouth. She said she's unable to get outside much these days, and that includes working in her front and back yards.

"I was trying to get my yard back," Patton said. "I couldn't do it myself."

Patton's sister, Evelyn Britt-Smith, is one of her caretakers. She said the outside of a home sets the tone for what's on the inside.

"A well-maintained yard [says], 'welcome'," Britt-Smith said, "And we take pride."

Britt-Smith said Patton has lived alone since her husband passed away decades ago, and she upkept her own lawn until two years ago when she was 91.

"She had surgery, and it just... She was unable to do it, and everything just got out of hand," Britt-Smith said.

But Patton said she can enjoy her yard again thanks to Emanuel's Hope Foundation. Landscaping business owner and Air Force veteran Emanuel Yancey formed the nonprofit in 2018.

"We provide complimentary and affordable lawn care for senior citizens that live by themselves," Yancey said. "And some due to physical limitations and financial constraints."

Yancey said he was inspired to form the nonprofit after helping elderly family members over the years.

"When my grandparents needed work, my dad would volunteer me, of course," Yancey said. "And it became a labor of love for me."

Since then, Emanuel's Hope Foundation has manicured lawns for dozens of seniors. Often, Yancey and his team of volunteers go above and beyond.

"[Yancey] came up with a mailbox, took the old one down, installed one within hand reach [for Patton]," Britt-Smith said. 

This happened after Patton started having trouble walking to her mailbox outside.

"Those that are living by themselves and struggling to maintain the residence that they've lived in some forty, fifty, and some sixty years, I think that's the least we can do," Yancey said.

The nonprofit's goal is to encourage independence so seniors, like Patton, can live their best life.

"It empowers them to remain prideful about their homeownership," Yancey said.

"They have kept me from going to a nursing home. Because they come and clean the house, the bathroom, and see that I got food," Patton said. "And it's wonderful. It's just wonderful."

Emanuel's Hope Foundation is hosting a Zoom-a-thon fundraiser on November 20th from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. There will be live music, testimonials and more. Registration for the event is free. 

The nonprofit also hopes to get more volunteers and partner with lawn care and landscaping professionals to expand its reach. Visit the group's website to learn more.

You can also make a donation through the group's GoFundMe campaign.

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