We had an excellent morning last Saturday at the Great American Cleanup. NeighborLink Fort Wayne teamed up with Youth For Christ's Prime Time Center, which is located across from Southside High School. We decided to partner with Southside and serve them as a thank you for all they do to support the Prime Time Center's mission of building relationships with students.
A mix of over 30 people showed up to help at this site. It was great seeing volunteers from YFC, a local church, students that attend Prime Time, and students that were serving out their community service hours mandated by the probation office. As you can see in the picture, our project consisted of cleaning up the debris and weeds out of several landscaping beds and then re-mulching them to renew them.
I'm always reminded of what incredible things can happen if we pool our time together. Due to the tremendous teamwork and leadership at this project, we were able to transform two long beds like this one and a roundabout garden area in a little over an hour. When you multiply the 30 people times 1 hour each, you can begin to see that we accomplished a week's worth of work in around an hour. What if we just did this once a month? It gives me hope to think about what kind of community impact people could have if we pooled just one hour a week.
There were two things that really stuck out for me. One, I saw a transformation in a few of the students that were there because they "had to be" there due to probation hours. They were definitely not there to "volunteer," as one said. However, once the work began, I saw them engaged and really focused on doing the job right. I saw what made these kids great and not what they may have done wrong to be there.
The second thing that stuck out to me was the fact that there was a double booking of sorts for that space. The area we were doing the work in was near the performing arts entrance of the building and it just happened to be on the same morning that a number of elementary and junior high schools were having arts performances. So, as people were setting up for that event and people were coming in and out, here was a team of people volunteering and beautifying the place. It's was a unintentional crossing of two important things in our community, arts and community service.
I'd call the day a success. Thanks to Nikki and her husband John, volunteers for YFC, for co-leading the morning and the 30 other volunteers who helped. It was great to be a part of an event that saw around 4,500 volunteers throughout the community of Fort Wayne.