When centenarian Jim Mims woke up the morning of Dec. 1, he was unprepared for the early birthday present he received: more than 20 people laboring outside his house, performing outdoor chores.
Approximately 22 people from the University of Richmond’s Lambda Chi Alpha fraternity and the Bon Air Rotary Club came to the aid of Mims that morning to help clean his yard, his roof and the surrounding land.
Jonathan Shannon, one of Lambda Chi’s current vice presidents, the fraternity’s philanthropy officer and a junior at the University of Richmond said that just over half the current brothers planned on attending.
“If someone needs help, it’s natural to help them,” Shannon said of the reason behind the high number of volunteers who jumped at the opportunity to help a fellow alumnus. But because of the number of people coming from the rotary club, the nature of the work and the limited space for parking, the original 28 volunteers from Lambda Chi was cut down to nine.
Some of these tasks included racking Mims’s expansive front lawn, sweeping, cleaning off leaves from his roof and gutters, uprooting invasive azaleas and ivy, and cutting down overgrown branches.
“He usually gets help from the neighbors, but it’s a big yard,” Adam Mears of the Bon Air Rotary Club said. “When we drove by and saw there was a lot of leaves and sticks, we just decided to band together and get everything cleaned up.”
It was a Richmond alumnus, Dan Wilkins, who recruited the current pledges of Lambda Chi Alpha to aid in the clean-up, Mears said.
“[Wilkins] went to U of R and was in the same fraternity as Jim back in the day,” Mears said. “He put the word out and we got an outpouring of people from U of R as well.”
With more than 20 people collectively working on the yard, the sides of the house and the roof, the project took a little more than an hour to perform the tasks that often hindered Mims.
The rotary club hadn’t informed Mims of the clean-up plans and he was surprised to discover people working just outside of his house.
“I just can’t believe that there’re all here,” Mims, 101, said, overwhelmed by the number of people who showed up to his house.
Mims only knew some of the people who volunteered their time to help with his yard, meaning most of the people helping were complete strangers to him, including the members of Lambda Chi Alpha.
“Brotherhood is forever, so they say,” Shannon said of the brothers’ willingness to volunteer. “I hope someone does this for me when I’m 101.”
Mims, a World War II veteran who served in the Marines and the Navy, graduated from the University of Maryland, but wasn’t an initiated member of the fraternity until after his service in the war and moved to Richmond. He was made a member of Lambda Chi in the late 1940s. He has also been an active member of the Bon Air Rotary Club since 1954. He will have been a member for 59 years in February.
Contact reporter Melanie Overall at email@example.com