All in a day's work

One local group of women has solved the problem of the never-ending "honey do" list.

Four members of Women Helping Other Women, a group based in Applegate, recently drove to Ashland to help "WHOW-er" Karen Giese paint the studio apartment she owns. In three hours, the job was nearly done.

The women belong to a group of 15 who get together once every six weeks for a potluck and to plan their work parties. The "rules" are simple: Don't ask the women to do anything dangerous, and after three hours of work the host serves lunch.

Thalia Truesdell started the club about 12 years ago after her friend in Portland joined a similar group.

"I used to live in a very small mountain community, and everybody helped everybody whether you wanted to or not," said Truesdell, who now has a home and three acres to care for by herself. "I was so missing that, and it just didn't happen naturally where I was living."

Single women were her original target members, but her married friends said their husbands were "useless," so they joined too, she said. Now about three-quarters of the group are married women who take care of their to-do lists through weekly work parties.

"Not that we don't love our husbands," said Leslie Lee, a married member of the club. Most husbands scatter when the women descend on their homes, the women said, but more often than not, the husbands are surprised with the results.

— — Thalia Truesdell and Leslie Lee work together.

Several years ago, club members helped Lee stucco a wall of her straw bale home. The group has also installed drywall, put up fences, repaired plumbing and completed electrical work in addition to gardening and painting projects.

"It's amazing because the women are all competent, and you just give them your list and they don't need direction," Truesdell said.

The club ensures all members share the benefits of work parties through a system of credits. A woman earns one credit by working for three hours and loses a credit for every helper that attends her work party. Most women work once a month and earn a party every three.

It's also possible to go in debt, Truesdell said. She dropped all the way to negative seven credits preparing for her son's outdoor wedding at her house.

And although three hours may not seem like a lot, it adds up quickly &

the equivalent of 12 hours with four women working. First-time hosts often run out of chores long before time is up.

"When we got here today, I didn't know how we were going to do it," said Karen Giese, whose apartment was half-painted in just over an hour. "Before you knew it, we had the drop cloth pulled across the floor and one corner done."

Most of the women didn't know each other when they joined, but the sense of accomplishment, and the camaraderie involved in the process, keeps them coming back year after year.

"You don't just go to meetings and sit around," said Teri Becker, who said she enjoys the work exchange more than a traditional garden club. "You go and you work and you're done. I think I have more community working with three or four women than I do if I go to a meeting."

In addition to helping each other out and saving money on home improvement projects, the club also volunteers by cleaning or doing yard work for the sick or elderly.

Since their group has formed, they have seen spin-offs in the Redwood City, Yreka and the Bay area. All a group needs is plenty of women and one organized person to keep track of the credits, members said.

Anyone interested in joining the club or seeking advice on how to start their own can call Thalia Truesdell at 899-8741.

Staff writer can be reached at 482-3456 ext. 227 or .

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