October 4, 2012

The family across the street

Alicia and Bob Pifer have helped neighbors in their hometown and beyond.

by Caitlin Huston

ROYAL CENTER — After living across the street from each other for about 11 years, the Marshalls and the Pifers grew to become like family.

Their kids baby-sat each other, every holiday was celebrated with a joint potluck and roofing projects on their Royal Center homes became bonding experiences for both families. As Lucy Marshall sees it, because Alicia and Bob Pifer help out at church, in the community and across the country, their neighborly duties are not contained to the street they live on.

With their houses separated only by a narrow Royal Center street, Alicia Pifer recalls seeing the kids grow up together and sharing gardening as well as life advice with Marshall.

“It was a very close relationship,” Alicia said.

However, Marshall points out in her letter that the Pifers were also willing to help out in hard times, like when water began filling their house and Bob and Alicia ran over with buckets — not even stopping to change their clothes.

Marshall said that example is indicative of their mantra of being “willing to help out however needed.”

Beyond their own street, Alicia and Bob also work with Habitat for Humanity and have worked on several housing projects.

“It’s what we do as a family,” Alicia said.

With their children helping on some of the projects, the Pifers have worked on local houses, traveled to Mexico to help build an orphanage and twice traveled to Tuscaloosa, Ala., to repair houses damaged by a tornado.

“There were no houses left,” Bob said. “It was shocking.”

The Pifers are also actively involved at the Shiloh Christian Church, where Marshall’s husband serves as an associate pastor. Alicia taught Sunday school classes and Bob serves as a deacon and is on the church board. Both Bob and Alicia helped with the construction of the church several years ago and continue to volunteer their time.

“If you have a work day, we’re willing to go and help,” Alicia said.

Alicia added that the church promotes a sense of voluntarism.

“It’s a church that everybody works together,” Alicia said.

The Marshalls moved from their street to live in Mexico for two years, and when they returned they searched for neighbors like the Pifers.

“When we were looking for a house this time, we wanted to find neighbors as good as the Pifers,” Marshall said.

And even though the Marshalls now live a few blocks away from the Pifers, Bob and Alicia continue to see them every week and also helped re-roof their new house.

Alicia said the roofing project helped rekindle the friendship and brought about the saying, “what happens on the roof, stays on the roof.”

She added that she and Bob enjoy helping others as a community service and as a way of staying active.

“We’re just people looking for things to do,” Alicia said.