Source: Tri-City Herald, John Trumbo, herald staff writer
Having a lush lawn wrapping around their South Kennewick home is a miracle, but being surrounded by so many people who volunteered to landscape it last year is even more gratifying, Navy Lt. Burke Jensen said a thank-you dinner Wednesday.
About two dozen people, representing some of the nearly 100 volunteers who helped with the landscaping project at the Jensen’s home in the Oak Hill Estates, enjoyed a meal provided by the Jensen’s.
Jensen recently returned from military duty in Kuwait, while his wife, Heidi, and their son remain in New Jersey. The family’s prolonged absence from their new Kennewick home began last year when Jensen received orders for a tour of duty in support of U.S. forces in the Mideast.
Their home needed landscaping to satisfy subdivision rules, and volunteers did it for them last October.
“Taking care of this landscaping took weight off me so I could focus and do my job over there,” Jensen said.
“Thank you for the time, energy and selfless work. I feel so lucky,” Heidi said in a text message Jensen read aloud at the dinner.
Jensen said coming home to the beautiful yard was special: “I didn’t see grass or smell grass for six months.”
The Navy reservist has special thanks for Tim and Teresa Montgomery, whose landscaping company coordinated the volunteer effort; Columbia Christian Fellowship Church Pastor Jeff Berry and his wife, Kathy, who checked on the vacant home weekly; Roger and Nancy Gregory, who also pulled weeds and kept close watch on the property; and Don Jensen, who mowed the lawn as needed all year even though he did not know the couple.
The thank-you dinner included a raising of a U.S. flag flown in Kuwait and a welcome home ceremony presented by Operation Thank You (www.waoperationthankyou.com) in Kennewick.
Jensen said he will go back to his new job at Energy Northwest to be trained as a nuclear operator. His wife, who is enrolled in college in New Jersey, and young son will join him early new year.