Brooke, and the Wards_web
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House projects lead to partnership

I could not be more thankful for my neighbors, Dave and Yoka Ward. In 2011, I moved into a 1932 Sears kit home in the Old Homewood neighborhood. I was a newly divorced, single mom with a 7-year-old son, ready to begin a new life. 

Though beautifully maintained, the house was filled with quirks and lacked landscaping of any kind. I was determined to make this our “happily ever after” but lacked the tools and skills to embark on home improvement.

Edited by Carole Sharwarko

I could not be more thankful for my neighbors, Dave and Yoka Ward. In 2011, I moved into a 1932 Sears kit home in the Old Homewood neighborhood. I was a newly divorced, single mom with a 7-year-old son, ready to begin a new life. 
 

Brooke King-LaBreck, left, relaxes this summer in the picturesque backyard space that her neighbors Dave and Yoka Ward helped her create. (Provided photo)
 

Though beautifully maintained, the house was filled with quirks and lacked landscaping of any kind. I was determined to make this our “happily ever after” but lacked the tools and skills to embark on home improvement. 

Dave and Yoka quickly and warmly welcomed me to the neighborhood, where they had lived for 30 years. They knew a good deal about the house’s history and were happy a young family was giving it new life.

That spring, I started carving out areas in my backyard for landscaping and a patio. Armed with naivety and a dull shovel I found in the garage, I broke ground for a 13-foot-by-13-foot patio. In less than an hour’s work, it became clear I had significantly underestimated the enormity of my task. 

Just as I was about to give up or perhaps have a breakdown, Dave crossed the street to inquire about my project. He said he and his wife couldn’t bear to sit at their dining room table watching me struggle any longer, and he was there to help!

Luckily for me, I discovered that my new neighbor was the groundskeeping manager at Coyote Run Golf Course and had ample know-how to finish the project. Dave worked alongside me over the next several weekends, lending his expertise, tools and energy to teach me and help complete my patio and adjacent landscaping. Afterward, he and Yoka brought over beers to celebrate and officially christen the space.

Even now when Dave and Yoka see me starting a project, they soon walk over and ask what I’m up to now — talking me down from my original harebrained scheme to an achievable plan. We all gained an extra hand in the work when I remarried in 2015. 

With the Wards’ help we’ve planted gardens and installed outdoor spaces. I’ve gotten better at home projects because of Dave (and Yoka volunteering him!), and with their help, my house won last year’s Homewood Beautification award. 

More importantly, I have won neighbors who are dear friends. We enjoy each other’s company, and I have come to think of them as family. I call them my “Cedar Road parents,” and I feel forever indebted to and thankful for them.
 

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