Chuck Culpepper clears the gutters with help from Austin Fosnot on Saturday at Louise Morrill’s home on Highland Avenue in Bloomfield. Civitans and
Chuck Culpepper clears the gutters with help from Austin Fosnot on Saturday at Louise Morrill's home on Highland Avenue in Bloomfield. Civitans and Junior Citvitans on Saturday cleaned Morrill's yard after the woman lost her homeowners insurance. (Jon Austria/The Daily Times)

BLOOMFIELD Liza Gomez carefully pealed back the lid of a white paint can on Saturday and stirred the paint inside with a stick.

Gomez, who belongs to the Gateway City Civitan Club, poured the paint into a container and handed it to another Civitan, who then went to paint the trim on Louise Morrill's home in Bloomfield.

Gomez was one of about a dozen Civitans and Junior Civitans who cleaned up Morrill's modular home and yard Saturday morning. The Bloomfield woman, who is in her 70s, lost her homeowners insurance when she wasn't able to clean her yard.

"This is really our first project of the spring," Gomez said, adding that the group completes community service projects as often as it can.

The Civitans decided to help Morrill after one of the club's members learned about the woman's situation.

When the club members arrived at Morrill's home on Saturday, pieces of wood with rusty nails lay on the ground. The limbs of a large cottonwood tree pressed on the home's roof.

The Civitans started by raking up leaves and other debris in the front yard. A couple of the members climbed onto the roof to prune the branches on the tree and clear out the rain gutters.

Morrill's family completed yard work when she moved into the house about a year ago, but the home needed more maintenance than they could provide.

Morrill said when she bought the light blue modular home on Highland Avenue in March 2013, she thought she was getting a good deal. Before, she lived in a dilapidated trailer in rural San Juan County. Morrill said it was difficult for her to take a bath in the trailer, and the shower no longer worked. Because of the long commute into town and the state of the trailer, she decided to buy a house.

"I thought it was in pretty good shape until I moved into it," she said.

When she moved in, she discovered it needed repairs inside and out, including new paint and a lot of yard work.

Morrill said arthritis in her hips and back pain leave her unable to physically do the necessary yard work. Last month, she learned her homeowners insurance policy would be canceled unless her cleaned her yard.

A letter from her insurance company gave her one week to clean her yard before her policy would be canceled.

But Morrill said she didn't receive the letter until after the week had passed. Because she has no car, Morrill walks one-mile round trip to the post office, and that delays when she picks up her mail.

When Morrill learned her policy had been canceled, she said she called her insurance agent, Cheryl Buser. Buser, who is a member of the local Civitan club, offered to have the club clean up Morrill's yard, the elderly woman said.

After Saturday's clean up, Morrill's homeowners insurance policy will hopefully be reinstated, Gomez said.

Morrill said she was a Civitan when she lived in Albuquerque and attended three international Special Olympics as a Civitan volunteer.

Her service as a Civitan is part of what inspired her 17-year-old granddaughter, Malleri Culak, to join Junior Civitans, a community service group for youth. Cleaning her grandmother's yard was Culak's first project with the club.

On Saturday, Culak raked leaves and carried branches cut down from the cottonwood tree to a truck to be hauled away.

She was joined by other Junior Civitans, including Taylor Liesse, 14, and Aubrey Aguirre, 14.

Liesse and Aguirre, who are friends from school, joined the club together.

"It's better than sitting at home," Aguirre said. "It's a great way to help the community."

Hannah Grover covers news, arts and religion for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4652 and Follow her @hmgrover on Twitter.