Healing in the wake of tragedy

By: Megan Wood The Press Tribune
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In the aftermath of a shocking community tragedy that involved a double-murder suicide, the neighbors on Alnwick Drive have banded together to begin the healing process one watering can and set of pruning shears at a time. Just weeks after the Sept. 15 murder of Ed and Marilyn Helms in their Alnwick Drive home, the residents of the quiet Roseville neighborhood came together last week to spruce up the landscaping of the Helms house, and relish in the support of neighbors. “We felt like this was something we could do to get the neighbors together and help clean up around the house and make it a little more appealing,” said Kim Black, next-door neighbor to the Helms family. “We thought that if we helped clean the yard a bit, it would give people less of a reason to stop and gawk at the house.” After the dust of the murder suicide had settled, Black and Roseville Coalition of Neighborhood Associations President Mike Hazen, who also lives on Alnwick Drive, organized a community service day to care for the Helmses’ yard and make the first steps of returning to normalcy. With permission from the family as well as the Placer County District Attorney’s Office, Hazen and the neighbors of Alnwick Drive began work last Saturday on the yard surrounding the Helms house. They removed garbage and debris, planted new flowers and plants in planter boxes and trimmed trees and shrubbery. The city of Roseville showed its support by donating Dumpsters to the cause. “This was one way that our community found to help out,” Hazen said. “This is a gesture to let the family know that the community is behind them and here to offer our support.” The home’s driveway and sidewalks were pressure washed and Hazen got the sprinkler system up and running again. Black and several other immediate neighbors continue to stop by the Helms house to maintain the yard and care for the newly planted flowers. Black said the family was thrilled to learn of the community service day and were gracious that the neighbors wanted to help. “I told them, ‘this is what neighbors do,’” Black said. “We’re supposed to help.” The neighborhood association is planning to make a contribution to the trust fund that has been established for the Helmes teenage sons. The Alnwick Drive residents, shocked by the sudden taking of their neighbors, found comfort in the community service day and used it as an opportunity to find strength and support in familiar faces. “The positive thing from this is we all came together and have started the healing process together,” Hazen said. “We got to come together and talk to our neighbors, I think it’s made us a stronger community.” Hazen said he is encouraging other neighborhoods to take advantage of any opportunity to get to know or reconnect with their neighbors and strengthen their neighborhood watch programs. “It’s so unfortunate that sometimes in life, we get so caught up in our own world and it takes an event like this to bring people together,” Black said. “I think we’ve all realized that all it takes is a phone call or a call for help to initiate people coming together for a greater good.”