When Michelle Lombardi left her home on Bristol Road to run errands June 7, the property next door was the same mass of unkempt trees and overgrown shrubs that she'd seen since moving to the Upper Arlington neighborhood four years ago.
When she returned 90 minutes later, she couldn't believe the transformation.
The swarm of volunteers who showed up that morning to participate in the 13th annual Realtor Care Day had created an entirely new landscape at 2329 Bristol Road.
"This is the first time I've ever seen the house," Lombardi said. "This is incredible."
Local real estate agents, lenders, title-company representatives, home inspectors and other members of the Northwest Area Realty Association worked throughout the day at the Bristol Road house.
By 10:30 a.m., they had removed several full dumpsters and truckloads of brush that had grown high enough to hide the house from view of the street and neighbors.
They also were at work cleaning the yard and, through the Realtor Care Day project that brought in materials donations from numerous area businesses, were planning to paint the house's exterior and repair its roof.
"We probably have about 50 people involved," said Katie Davis, NWARA president and a Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Calhoon Co. real estate agent. "We support our community and like to give back in any way we can.
"We support and believe in the areas we sell in and live in and that a lot of us work in."
The Bristol Road project was the 13th that NWARA has taken up in the Tri-Village area since the nonprofit trade association Columbus Realtors established Realtor Care Day in 2005.
It's meant to spur community service projects in neighborhoods throughout central Ohio.
NWARA expected to invest about $4,000 in the Bristol Road property, which included a $500 grant from Columbus Realtors and donations from NWARA members and the community.
Davis said the group picked the site with help from Upper Arlington's Property Maintenance Division after learning it was in transition between members of a local family.
"It's been in the family forever and they want to keep it," Davis said. "They needed some help."
Tom Paisley, code compliance officer for Upper Arlington, said the city has supported NWARA's Realtor Care Day efforts the past 10 years. This year, he worked alongside intern Ben Barcroft to clear and shuttle out yard waste.
"Each year, Upper Arlington and NWARA selects a property owner based on criteria such as heath limitations, fixed income and the assistance of friends, family, neighbors," Paisley said. "The property at 2329 Bristol Road was selected due to the amount of vegetation overgrowth concealing the residence.
"It is a way for city employees to give back to the Upper Arlington community. Also, it helps assist a resident and their neighbors."
Next-door neighbor Lombardi agreed, saying she was "thrilled" with the "long overdue" project.
"It will be nice to finally feel like this house is part of the neighborhood," she said. "I'm, like, in shock right now."