The Imperial Beach Kiwanis Club is looking for 30 to 40 volunteers to help paint the home of Ken and Martha Roland at 789 Elm St. Oct. 15 from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m.
To get involved, call 619-400-9037 or show up Saturday and give as much time as you can.
“We want to serve those who served us,” said Deric Fernandez, who organized the project, referring to Ken’s decades in the U.S. Navy.
The paint job is part of a general fix-up to the Rolands’ home, which also includes tree trimming, a power wash of the walls, light wood and fascia board replacement and landscaping.
Members of the Mar Vista High School Key Club will be asked to participate, in hopes that it will instill a spirit of service in volunteers.
“These kids, when they ride by on their bikes, or when they get older and drive by, they can say, ‘I did that,’ ” Fernandez said.
Living on the corner, Ken and his wife have seen at least 10 solicitors stop by over the past five years promising the world, but there was always a catch. So at first, when members of the Imperial Beach Kiwanis Club approached the Rolands, they thought it was a scam, but they eventually found out it was real.
“What can you say when something like this happens? I mean, there’s no way I can show appreciation, and God knows I’ve done a lot of good deeds and a lot of bad deeds, so in the big tally book, I hope it all works out,” Ken said.
“I don’t know whether it’s luck, fate or what, but there ain’t nobody who wouldn’t appreciate this,” he said. “Now I’ve never asked anyone for anything my entire life.
“If I had sad song, I don’t know what it could be,” Roland said. “I have lived the greatest life in the world any man could have with the most beautiful wonderful wife a man could have.
“If I die tomorrow, I only have one wish: That she would be took care of. This will assure that she can stay here if she wants to.”
Ken grew up in the mountains outside of Burnsville, N.C., on a farm with no electricity or water, raised by his great grandmother Lobada King Roland. At 13, he worked on farms until he was 17, when he joined the U.S. Navy, where he would serve on seven different aircraft carriers or ships.
The couple met in Alameda, Calif. Martha moved to the Bay Area with her family as a teenager after growing up a 13-bedroom Indiana home. When Roland was homeless after finishing a stint in the Navy, he stayed in a garage behind Martha and her family’s home. During a rain storm, the family invited him in to take cover.
The two have been married almost 55 years and moved to Imperial Beach in 1971.