Angel and Maria Alberio — natives of Puerto Rico — do not know enough English to express their gratitude in words to about 20 volunteers who spent Saturday removing tons of debris from in front of their home.
However, the smiles on the couple’s faces more than made up for any language barriers.
“You don’t need a translator to see how happy they are,” said Christy Moon, one of the organizers of Saturday’s community outreach event at the home on Washington Street in Amherst. “They are such a sweet couple.”
Moon — a registered nurse at the Stroobants Cardiovascular Center in Lynchburg — organized the cleanup with some co-workers. The goal was to help the elderly couple remove several tons of debris that remained after Angel Alberio — a former carpenter — used materials from a former home on the property that was in disrepair to the renovated house he and his wife live in.
“He did all of that work himself,” Moon said. “They are very proud people and have never asked anyone for any help even though they have limited means.”
Moon said the couple — who are patients at the Stroobants Cardiovascular Center — were talking to her about the renovation work and how they were unable to remove the debris that remained. Moon and Justin Klein, exercise physiologist at the Stroobants center, went earlier this week to see if they could help the couple clean up the yard. However, Moon said, they quickly realized this was more than a two-person job.
“There was a little bit lost in translation about how much was here,” Moon said laughing. “I thought we could come over with a truck and haul some stuff off but then we saw how much material was here.”
Moon said she also discovered waste removal and disposal was not cheap.
“We thought we could just go out and rent a dumpster or something,” she said. “We found out that it costs hundreds of dollars to rent one of these things.”
Moon reached out to several local companies to see if any of them would be willing to donate the use of one of the dumpsters and received “a really quick” response from Rustburg-based First Piedmont Corp. — which provides waste collection and recycling services.
“They were more than happy to help us out,” Moon said. “Not only did they provide us with the dumpster to use, they are covering up to $600 in fees for hauling it off. That helps us tremendously because it costs about $55 a ton to move.”
Moon also reached out to Sam Bryant, Amherst County’s director of public safety, for some additional help for the job. Bryant said he was more than happy to get involved with helping the Alberios.
“They are hardworking people doing this on their own and needed a little help,” Bryant said. “Centra really does a lot of good for people out here in the community and we partner up with them every chance we get. When they called me up on Friday and asked if we could help, I put the word out for volunteers.”
About 20 volunteers — made up of Centra and Amherst County employees — came to the Alberios’ home Saturday morning and worked to remove the leftover wood and concrete on the property. Within two hours, the group already had filled the dumpster First Piedmont supplied and were filling up truck beds with material.
“We are going to have to do this project in stages,” Moon said. “We unfortunately can’t haul this off in one day. However, this was a really good start and it looks so much better already.”
Joni McGinn — a physician assistant at the Stroobants center — said getting Centra volunteers to come back out to the house should not be a problem.
“Everyone at work just loves them,” McGinn said. “Look how many people came out today to help.”
Bryant said getting Amherst County volunteers also should not be difficult.
“This is all about neighbors helping neighbors,” Bryant said. “This is a wonderful way to start 2020. It also is never too early to get on Santa’s nice list for next Christmas.”