Thursday, May 16, 2013
What do nearly 300 Summerville residents from a dozen organizations have in common? They were all part of a huge volunteer effort to help organizations that serve the community, especially those in need, during Summerville Cares Day of Service on May 4. After a kickoff breakfast at 8 a.m. in Azalea Park in a slight drizzle, undaunted volunteers fanned out to complete 37 projects, many winding up late Saturday afternoon. Participants included volunteers from the Office of the Mayor, Department of Parks and Recreation, four congregations of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Palmetto Land Baptist Church, Evening Lions Club, Summerville/ Greater Dorchester County Chamber of Commerce, Secular Humanists of the Lowcountry, Dorchester School District 2, Summerville Jaycees, and local businesses.
Projects were completed by volunteers of all ages. "I'm here serving today because it helps our community," said Samantha Wright, 15, while cleaning the grounds and gardens at The Coastal Center in Ladson. Her companion, Caroline Reeser, 13, participating with her parents and friends, added "I'm here serving today because it helps our community." At the other end of the age scale, Joe Stubbs, an elder in the LDS Church observed, "We may be old and tired and know we will be sore tomorrow, but we love it. It's a challenge...but it's worth it."
Members of different organizations served side-by-side. At Palmetto House, a shelter for the homeless, volunteers served breakfast and lunch for residents and built from scratch a backyard patio and covered it with a pergola. Stepping-stones were then laid to connect the patio and the driveway in front of the building.
Alex Kasman, Head Coordinator of The Secular Humanists, explained his group’s involvement: "We're all about making the world a better place. It's not going to happen unless people do it. We are happy to have the opportunity to help other people”. The group was joined by members of the Summerville 1st Ward (congregation) of the LDS Church, led by its bishop, Samuel Walker, who spent much of the morning on his knees laying pavers for the patio. "It's good to link arms with others in the community—it’s good will towards all men” he said as he left to join other members of his congregation at The Coastal Center.
At Eagle Harbor Boys Ranch, a refuge and shelter for children who are orphaned, neglected, abused and abandoned, several groups joined in upgrading the facilities. Clay Cranford led volunteers from The Evening Lions Club in rebuilding and relocating large wooden cloths racks. “We do service projects on our own but it nice to help others in all these projects at Eagle Harbor—we will certainly join again”, he said.
Palmetto land Baptist Church members, led by Senior Pastor Gene Carpenter and Pastor Daniel Carpenter, applied siding to a storage building. Members of the LDS Young Single Adults congregation graded ground for a new volleyball court. On the grass in front of the group homes, congregants from the LDS Summerville 3rd Ward and missionaries were joined by individual volunteers in building a Jungle Jim playground set from scratch, patching potholes with gravel, restoring the pond beach with sand, building a lean-to, installing a tin roof, and painting the barn. Children weeded flowerbeds, and youth patched road ruts with gravel, hauled in for the occasion. For good measure, they leveled and cleaned white fences and restored picnic tables.
Boy Scouts conducted a food drive for Palmetto House and HELP of Charleston at the LDS Summerville 2nd Ward building on 5th St. while adults inside helped 43 volunteers donate blood for American Red Cross. Other members weeded gardens and planted flowers at Dorchester County library, Summerville Branch.
Summerville Mayor Bill Collins explained the purpose of this community-wide participation on April 7 when he proclaimed May 4th as Summerville Cares Day of Service. “One of my goals in starting Day of Service last year was to tap into the spirit of volunteerism of our residents, many of whom see people and non-profit organizations struggling in this difficult economic climate. The effort by volunteers—many from neighboring communities—was gratifying, and no doubt helped our community and lifted the spirits of all who participated.” Spirits were lifted again this year, according to volunteer LeRoy Thompson, 38, “I’m ecstatic about serving because so many have served me and my family. We all need help and it makes me feel good. It's my way to pay back."