When you need a helping hand

Bob and Sharon VanDeWater

Bob and Sharon VanDeWater

David Laschinger

If you see a golf cart running around Robson Ranch with a ladder strapped to the top instead of golf clubs on the back, you’ve just seen Bob and Sharon VanDeWater going to help a Robson resident.

Bob, a retired veterinarian, and Sharon moved to RR earlier this year after living in McKinney, and before that Salida, Colorado where they ministered to senior citizens. After settling into their new home on Ambrosia Court they realized this community had similar needs. So they started “Robson Ranch Helping Hands” in July. With help from other volunteers, including the Robson men’s and women’s Bible study groups, they offer to do simple tasks that people cannot perform themselves.

“We are not handymen,” Bob emphasized. “We won’t replace the plumbers, carpenters or other trades. We want to help the people who can no longer get on a ladder, lift objects, crawl under the counter, go into the attic and do things they once did themselves. We have changed light bulbs in the ceiling, put a sliding door back on its track, moved furniture, removed doors to provide scooter accessibility, changed air conditioner filters and replaced water purification filters under the sink.” The service needed most often? Replacing smoke detector batteries. One resident had a smoke detector that chirped for weeks before hearing about Helping Hands.

The VanDeWaters have had some unusual requests. One resident had a dead bird hanging from the purple martin house in her yard. Bob removed it. Another person had a new smoke detector that was faulty. Bob replaced it. A man got a fish hook stuck in his arm. Bob got it out. Bob replaced a defective toilet mechanism one day only to be called back the next day when the resident’s house flooded from a clogged sewer line. Bob asked the men’s Bible study for help, and several men arrived to move furniture off of the wet carpet and to remove the standing water. After the plumber cleared the line and the flooring had been replaced, 10 volunteers came to put the furniture back.

Helping Hands has assisted people who are recovering from medical procedures or who have health conditions that prevent them from doing tasks around the house. A resident with vertigo was uncomfortable using a ladder, so Bob came to help. On two occasions a female resident had difficulty getting out of her bed and ended up on the floor. Her husband was not able to get her up so Bob came to the rescue.

A few days may pass without any calls for assistance, then they get three calls in one afternoon. On average the VanDeWaters get one call a week. Someone always accompanies Bob when going to a resident’s home and it is usually Sharon. “We want to be above reproach,” Sharon said. “But it’s fun meeting people.”

“We could help with transportation and other needs while a person is recovering from a medical procedure. We can help them understand their medications.” In the past Bob used his medical background to help individuals and families understand confusing medical lingo.

Like the song Lean On Me says, “…Just call on me brother when you need a hand.” Bob and Sharon can be reached at 214-425-8039, and they’ll come running in their ladder-covered golf cart.