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Friday, October 23, 2020  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Good Neighbors: ‘It is a community thing’

John Heywood, the English playwright and poet, wrote: “Many hands make light work.”

That proverb aptly reflects the efforts of those who reached out to help Gene La Liberte when his left knee gave out on him in early December.

“I had been out early cleaning off the driveway and sidewalk,” recalled La Liberte, 88.

“I went inside to get all of my stuff to go to the gym,” he said. “When I went out to the garage, I put my right foot down and then when I stepped with my left foot I found myself sitting on the concrete.”

What the retired military man would soon discover was that the tendon attached to his left knee cap had completely broken off and he needed major surgery. For the next two months he found himself in a metal brace from his ankle to his thigh.

“For the longest time Gene couldn’t even get out of a chair unless I helped him,” said his wife, Jackie.

When the first dusting of snow fell after Gene’s injury, Jackie, 72, was able to manage.

“But soon it started snowing pretty good,” she said, “and when I looked out to see how bad it was, people were out there shoveling our driveway.”

Gene, who has always been more comfortable with helping others, was overwhelmed. “I was just flabbergasted to think I had such good neighbors,” he said.

Over the next couple of months, the snow removal duties rotated among Don and Kay Davisson, Maurie and Shirley Horlen, Roy and Wenda Mackey, and Gary and Lana Myers.

The five couples have been neighbors on Olive Lane in Liberty Lake’s MeadowWood Village for more than a decade.

“The day Gene hurt his leg I saw the firetruck and ambulance,” remembered Kay Davisson, who lives across the street.

“He has always been so active and all of a sudden he was unable to do simple chores,” she said. “When it began to snow, we all knew what had to be done. It was just spontaneous.”

The Village is one of those neighborhoods where folks look out for each other.

“The majority of us are senior citizens,” said Maurie Horlen, 78, a retired manager with Ideal Cement Co.

“We probably live in the best Block Watch community one could possibly have,” said Roy Mackey, a former Air Force chief. “There are 62 homes here and everyone seems to know everybody.”

Neighbor Lana Myers agrees.

“Out here if someone needs help, we all just pitch in and go do it without a second thought,” she said. “It is a community thing.”

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