When Bonnie Schmitz helped a friend find a place to charge his phone after last night’s storm, she had not expected to witness love in action.
Schmitz said people, mostly men, “of every color imaginable” had come together to clean up Parkview subdivision in Joliet.
She said people dragged their tree limbs "for blocks" to her friend Joe Kovis, who lived in the subdivision and had a chain saw.
Afterwards, the neighbors cleared his yard of leaves.
“He had the cleanest grass he’s ever seen in his life,” Schmitz said. “It was good to see so many men care for one another and just be so happy they did.”
Kovis, who works in maintenance for a property in Palos Heights, said he returned to Joliet at 5:30 p.m. Monday night.
One look at all the tree limbs blocking intersections near his home, and Kovis said he knew ”it was going to be along night.”
“I got my long pants on and some dry boots and socks and started cutting my yard,” Kovis said. “Then I went to my neighbor’s house and started cutting his yard.”
More neighbors noticed and came over to help, he said.
“We just went up and down the street working together,” Kovis said. “We were just, you know, being neighborly and showing God’s love in the midst of a pandemic and racial tensions. It was Hispanics and black people and white people all working together.”
One of those neighbors was Danavious Hurd, who's lived in the neighborhood for 20 years, he said.
Hurd said he didn't even know Kovis' last name before Monday night. But he got involved even though his house was not affected, he said.
"I had the same damage at my house May 23 of this year," Hurd said. "So I went over and started helping.
About a dozen people pitched in, Hurd said.
"Everybody just was helping enough other," Hurd said.
No one had the attitude that "it wasn't my problem," Hurd said. He feels that if your neighborhood has a problem, then it is your problem.
In this case, one of the streets – Caddy Lane – was completely blocked to traffic, Hurd said.
So getting the roadways cleared was important, Hurd felt, even though he himself never had his electrical service restored until Tuesday afternoon.
"At least the emergency medical vehicles could get through," Hurd said.
Kovis said he did all the cutting because he didn’t want anyone to get hurt while using his chain saw.
“We were laughing. One guy brought beer out. We talked about how we should get a block party gong when things settled down," Kovis said. "We went up and down the street. Anyone who had trees in their yard or on their house or blocking their driveway or in their street, we cut them up and put them off to the side. Everybody was just helping and pitching in. It was really great to see.”
God has a way, Kovis said, of “doing what He does for His glory.”
Kovis said the crew finished around 8 p.m. He was covered in sawdust and sweat and went inside his house to take a shower. Schmitz was picking him to get food and charge his phone, he said.
But that’s when, unbeknownst to him, his neighbors got busy cleaning up his debris from the storm.
“I had about eight people in my yard,” Kovis said. “They picked up every single leaf from my yard, and that just made me feel really good. It gave me hope for humanity.”