Katherine Castleschouldt on Wednesday sat in a lawn chair outside her Galveston home and watched as volunteers bustled about her overgrown yard.
The volunteers moved swiftly, trimming trees and bushes, laying pavers for a walkway and clearing trash from the yard. Those who assisted knew that if they didn’t help, Castleschouldt could be subject to code enforcement violations from the city.
Castleschouldt is 72 years old and has Stage 4 breast cancer. Yardwork isn’t in her realm of abilities, she said.
“I simply can’t do this anymore,” she said. “You just can’t go out there and be Superwoman when you have pills to swallow. This makes it much easier on me.”
The volunteers come from Salty Culture, the community outreach arm of Valiant Church. In August, the group formed a partnership with the city of Galveston to help people — mostly the elderly — clean their yards and avoid fines from violating city code.
“Our whole thought is that you can serve in lots of different capacities,” said Clint Shuttlesworth, founder of Salty Culture. “It doesn’t have to be huge projects. It could be something as simple as cutting hair or cleaning a yard.”
In the collaboration, the city finds people with yard code violations who are also not able to take care of their yards themselves. The city then connects those people to Salty Culture or to Moody Methodist Church, which also has a similar collaboration with the city.
Debbie Stark, assistant director of operations for Galveston Code Enforcement, said many elderly people are already financially struggling, and code violations would only add to their problems.
The program “gives someone like that an opportunity to take care of the issue before they find themselves in a financial situation,” Stark said.
Although a religious group heads up the program, the group doesn’t focus on faith in their work. Anyone can volunteer, and anyone who isn’t physically able to clean their yard can get help.
“I really wanted it to be a community effort, and not just a church effort,” Shuttlesworth said. “We’re not out there shoving Jesus down anybody’s throat, we’re just out there loving on people.”
Wes Holland, 43, of Galveston, said volunteering with Salty Culture was a “no-brainer,” even though he doesn’t attend Valiant Church.
“My religion is to take care of folks, regardless of where you go to church or anything like that,” Holland said. “I feel like we should all take care of each other.”
Tucker Chapman, 26, Galveston, said he had some spare time on Wednesday and wanted to use that to do good in the community.
“I just felt compelled to go help,” Chapman said. “It kind of comes back to helping your neighbor.”