Being Neighborly

When some members of the Gulfport Neighbors learned how local Mark Grantham’s yard had gotten away from him – largely because he has a brain tumor that results in eyesight and balance troubles – they decided to lend a neighborly hand with what they call a “flash cleanup” Saturday morning, April 26.

After a morning’s work – and a lunch supplied by Fazio’s pizza – Grantham described the difference as “night and day.”

Grantham has lived in the Middle East, worked as a buyer for high-end retail, and taught history. When doctors discovered a brain tumor, his life changed. Gone were the days of traveling to Syria and long workweeks. Grantham now walks with a cane, but still remains active in the community. He volunteers as a mentor at Boca Ciega High School, serves on Gulfport’s Historic Preservation Board and also recently accepted a board position with the Gulfport Historical Society. He can no longer drive; instead, he walks or takes busses to where he needs to go.

Even as volunteers used chainsaws to remove dead branches and stumps, adding to the mountain of yard waste awaiting pickup, Grantham carried yard waste to the curb, his cane in one hand and a pile of vines in the other.

“Our first ‘flash cleanup’ was great,” Gulfport Neighbors Vice President Margarete Tober said. “The amount of work accomplished by the 19 volunteers, in a few short hours, was amazing.”

Different than prior cleanups, the flash cleanups should take no more than a few hours, according to Tober.

“The idea is to complete the project in a ‘flash,’” she said, adding that “part of the notion of the flash clean-up is to get immediate neighbors involved.” These cleanups do not require as much planning or as many resources as the larger projects.

Although the cleanup didn’t take place on as grand a scale as others, to Grantham, it mattered just as much.

“The actions of the volunteers and Fazio’s show us why we are lucky to live in such a town that truly cares about the residents,” Grantham wrote on the Gabber’s “Gulfport Ideas and Opinions” Facebook page Saturday afternoon.

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