SIDE STREETS EXTRA: Injured mule deer buck draws a crowd

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Everybody needs neighbors like Stephanie and Jeff Newbern.In their 11 years on Sturgis Road, in the San Luis Estates near Palmer Park, the Newberns have become known as the "guardian angels" who look after the sick and the elderly or anyone who just needs a hand.Drop by Saturday, at 8:30 a.m. and see why. (See a map and photo on my blog at Newberns will be hard at work, leading a group of neighbors in rehabbing a house for someone who is disabled and unable to maintain his home.It's a typical project for the couple."Stephanie and Jeff are the guardian angels of the neighborhood," said Julia Carrion, who lives across the street.They are the kind of folks who organized a summer block party - even going to the trouble of getting the city to barricade the street - to encourage everyone to mingle and really get to know each other."I just think everyone gets along better when they know each other," Stephanie said. "Everyone exchanged phone numbers. When you know your neighbors, they tend to watch out for you a little more."Their nurturing has created a special atmosphere on Sturgis, Carrion said."Everyone in our neighborhood waves," Carrion said. "If a package is delivered during the day when I'm gone, I know someone will pick it up. It's not like other neighborhoods."The Newberns also are the ones people call when an elderly resident needs a tree trimmed or a gutter cleaned.Or if someone gets spooked by a shady character seen wandering around the neighborhood."Instead of calling police for some things, people call Jeff and Stephanie," Carrion said. "They are awesome."But the Newberns don't always wait to be called to help. This Saturday's project is a good example.For years, many in the neighborhood of 1960-vintage homes - ranchers and splitlevels valued around $200,000 or so - had noticed how one house was deteriorating. It needs paint. Its gutters cleaned. Windows repaired. Lawn mowed. Weeds pulled.The neighborhood has no active homeowners group to enforce covenants. And it wouldn't really matter. The owner is simply unable to keep it up.The owner, who did not want to be identified because of his disabilities, confirmed the Newberns have helped him over the years, and he applauded their efforts."They have shoveled my walk and my driveway for years," he said. "They help with my trees, cut down weeds for me. They have been wonderful neighbors. You couldn't ask for better neighbors."So it's no surprise that Stephanie decided it was time to help. The only surprise is the project itself. The owner doesn't know what's coming Saturday."We just thought we'd do something nice for him," she said. But the amount of work needed was a little too much for Stephanie and Jeff to tackle by themselves. So she went up and down Sturgis asking for help."We live in a nice neighborhood," Newbern said. "We have great neighbors. I knew they'd help. Everyone was glad to help."It was an easy sell."We are not asking anyone to spend the whole day," she said. "Just do whatever you can."A couple of older folks offered to buy paint, nails, lumber and lunch. Others will bring lawn mowers and ladders.On Saturday, they'll assemble and tackle the house and yard."It's really cool," Carrion said. "It seems like we only hear about neighbors who are fighting or suing each other. Here's an example of a great neighborhood."-Tell me about your neighborhood: 636-0193 or


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