How a Volunteer Team Helped a Family in Need

The group stepped in to help the family of a man dying from cancer.


- Posted on Apr 8, 2019

Staff members prepare for the Founder's Day Service Project day. Pictured are Dave Crowley, Courtney Hughbanks, Mimi Wahlfeldt, Kirsten Stockton, Karen Scott, Tammy Fasold, Kayla Sargent and Lori Grant.

Content provided by Good Samaritan Society.

On a recent cold, rainy day, Good Samaritan Society – Fort Collins Village staff members headed to the Mares family home in Fort Collins to chop down four dead aspen trees. This wasn’t a typical Good Samaritan Society Founder’s Day Service Project, and initially, staff members were unsure whether they would be able to help.

Projects usually involve volunteers installing grab bars and raised toilet seats in bathrooms, and changing light bulbs and smoke detector batteries. But, Courtney Hughbanks, director of donor engagement at Fort Collins Village, learned that Ted Mares was battling brain cancer. And his wife, Marina, and mother, Joyce, were feeling overwhelmed. “I could see the stress and exhaustion in their eyes,” says Courtney.

Joyce told Courtney that the neighborhood Home Owner's Association had given the family 14 days to remove the dead trees. Marina and Joyce were faced with Ted’s mounting medical bills, and the last thing they needed was an HOA fine. “When I learned about the Mares family’s situation, I immediately thought of the Good Samaritan story,” says Fred Pitzl, administrator at Fort Collins Village. “I knew that we were called to ‘stop along the road’ and help them.”

And help is what they did.

That morning, Courtney, Dave Crowley and Kirsten Stockton used a chainsaw to cut down the trees. They hauled branches and made two trips to the landfill in a little more than four hours. Unfortunately, Ted didn’t get to see the completed project as he died two days after Courtney met his family. Despite his condition, Ted’s death at age 52 was unexpected and heartbreaking.

But the team of volunteers felt like their help offered some respite for the family. “When we were finished, Marina had to leave to prepare the funeral service for the following day,” Courtney says. “The relief and gratitude she expressed made the work feel even more meaningful. I could almost feel the weight lifted off of her shoulders.”

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