Neff: Operation Fix It provides valuable Scottsdale service

Nancy Neff, center, and Scottsdale Leadership Class 31 colleague Nicole Beale, volunteer for Operation Fix It, with Program Manager Michelle Holmes. (Submitted photo)

There wasn’t a dry eye in the room when Michelle Holmes made her passionate speech about Operation Fix It to Scottsdale Leadership Class 31.

She painted a vivid picture of why the program deserved to be selected by one of the four Project Lead It Forward teams to help raise funds for and awareness about the program.

Cleaning yards, painting homes and making repairs may not sound like the makings of a tear jerker, but, for Ms. Holmes, such projects can mean the difference for someone facing the real possibility of losing their home. Her pitch to Scottsdale Leadership Class 31 was so compelling, three out four teams chose it as their PLIF project.
After much negotiation, Team 3 was fortunate to get the opportunity to work with Ms. Holmes and help get the much-needed financial support for Operation Fix It.

Operation Fix It is a city of Scottsdale program that grew out of need. The city has an obligation to enforce its property maintenance codes, but, time after time, Ms. Holmes, who is the Operation Fix It program manager, would encounter residents who had heartbreaking stories and legitimate reasons for letting things get out of hand.

She wanted to do something to help and the idea of getting the community to donate funds, supplies and volunteer time has grown into a model program of neighbors helping neighbors.

Imagine if your neighbor was suddenly overwhelmed by an unforeseen health or financial crisis. What if this crisis snowballed and unintentionally led to the neglect of their yard or home, causing stress and negatively impacting the neighborhood? You’d want to help them, right?

Surprisingly, many Scottsdale residents, primarily the elderly and military veterans, are in desperate need of such a helping hand. And, that’s where Operation Fix It comes in. Ines Wagner is an example of someone who needed help. Ines was busy caring for her seriously ill husband, and taking care of yard maintenance was the furthest thing from her mind as her husband was losing his battle.

When she got the city notice about an impending fine for the condition of her yard, Ines was ready to raise a little cane. That is, until Ms. Holmes stepped in and told Ines about Operation Fix It and how volunteers would work at no cost to get her yard in tip-top shape.

Ines, who is eternally grateful, said, “I don’t think people know how much you are doing to help people like me. You are really angels.” Members of her family were so grateful, they now volunteer their time to Operation Fix It and pay it forward. Truly, neighbors helping neighbors.

But, Operation Fix It needs more than volunteers. It needs financial support. The program is funded entirely through donations from individuals, businesses and organizations in our community. Unfortunately, the projects often outweigh the available funds needed to get them done.

Scottsdale Mayor Jim Lane is a strong supporter of Operation Fix It.

All proceeds from his annual State of the City Address go to the program, which teams volunteers and businesses to assist homeowners or tenants who are physically or financially unable to maintain their properties.

In 2016, Operation Fix It put hundreds of volunteers to work, completing more than 250 projects. The 2016 State of the City luncheon raised about $18,000 for the program, but the goal is to raise even more this year. Members of Scottsdale Leadership Class 31 Team 3 will be on hand at the Mayor’s 2017 State of the City Address to promote Operation Fix It and take donations on site.

It’s also easy to donate online at scottsdaleaz.gov. Just put Operation Fix It in the search box and make your online gift.

Donations from $10 to $10,000 can make the difference for keeping our neighbors, such as Ines Wagner and others like her, in their homes.

Editor’s note: Ms. Neff is participating in the Scottsdale Leadership Class 31 program

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