By Arwen McGilvra-
On Sat July 11th, 2015 an army of volunteer workers descended on Fir Grove Primary school in North Albany to give the building a facelift by painting and landscaping the grounds. Meanwhile in Jefferson volunteers painted the exterior of the community center, the stalls at the Fire Station and the Library Gazebo.
ServeINC is in it’s 6th year; helping to impact Albany and Jefferson schools and public areas during an annual day of service through the effort of some 25 churches working together. This year nearly 600 people participated.
In Jefferson 145 volunteers made a significant difference along Main street where the 3 buildings (community center, fire station and library) are all located. In particular it was a huge blessing to the community center which is staffed by volunteers.
In Albany 300 plus volunteers painted and landscaped at Fir Grove Primary school. The building which had been “moth-balled” for several years due to budget cuts is scheduled to reopen this fall to house all day kindergarten and first grade.
Melissa Buckner, whose son will be attending Fir Grove said that her son was really excited to see the school. Amber Ayala, who lives next door to the school, brought her children to the Kids Zone, “It’s pretty awesome that everyone got together for this project.”
115 children came for a Kids Zone and backpack giveaway. Volunteers from Child Evangelism Fellowship, the Salvation Army and the Gideon’s were on hand to help with fun activities for the children, including carnival games, face paint and a bounce house. Some parents who brought children to the Kids Zone even volunteered to help with the service project.
Doug Pigman who is the facilities director for the Greater Albany Public Schools District called the project at Fir Grove, “one of the most significantly successful ServeINC projects I’ve ever seen. It will be a big help to reopening the building.”
“I’m a part of the community,” said GAPS employee Patrick Kennedy about why he was spending the day volunteering. “I feel like it’s a responsibility we all share to take care of the places our kids go to school.”
One of the most noticeable things about the day were the smiles on the volunteers’ faces. “If I can contribute and bless someone, even in a small way, it blesses me too,” said Ray Valburg. A seniment that was echoed by many and part of the reason for the smiles.
Project Coordinator Jon Killinger reminded the group that the day was about more than just painting, “If we just show up and paint a school we’ve failed,” he told participants at the opening rally. He encouraged them to find fellowship and connect with other like-minded people who want to express their faith through this kind of joint service with the idea that “We are better together.”