Churches to launch Summer of Service today
By Rachel McGrath
Friday, June 4, 2010
Volunteers from churches and Christian groups in Ventura County will begin a Summer of Service today.
The initiative is being organized by the Action Foundation, a registered nonprofit based in Camarillo that acts as a catalyst bringing churches together to serve others.
“If our beliefs are important to us, we reach out of comfort zones and care for people around us who are in need,” said Summer of Service coordinator Don Cole.
In previous years, the Action Foundation has held a one-day volunteer service event, but this year the organization wants to see if it can expand that effort over several weeks.
“We took a bit of a risk,” said Cole.
“People get excited about one day and pitch in, but the foundation’s idea is to give people opportunities and experiences to make more of a connection to the community.”
The program will launch today when, Cole said, about 400 volunteers from about a dozen churches are expected to help out in a variety of projects from Oxnard and Fillmore to Simi Valley and Agoura Hills.
The projects include painting and maintenance at public and private schools, clean-up, trash-hauling and landscaping at mobile home parks and helping seniors and the disabled with home improvement projects and wheelchair access.
Cole said the goals are to give individual church members the opportunity to serve and to work across denominational lines.
During the next few weeks, Cole anticipates that up to 1,000 volunteers from about 25 churches will participate in the Summer of Service.
Terry Smith, an electrical engineer who lives in Westlake Village, is overseeing a group of volunteers from Calvary Community Church who will be doing a range of work at the Ventura County Christian School in Ventura.
“This school is really struggling so we’re trying to help them,” said Smith, 60.
He said he anticipates 50 to 75 members of the Westlake Village church will turn out today to begin work on a number of projects at the school that will take all summer and into fall to complete.
“We are resealing and staining some outdoor wood that’s starting to get weathered. We’re updating some playground equipment, fixing plumbing, adding exterior security lights and installing an exhaust fan in the kitchen,” he said.
In Thousand Oaks, volunteers will join school district painters in helping spruce up and paint the exterior of Park Oaks School on Calle Bouganvilla. They will begin the project on June 12, said Principal Paula Willebrands, and continue on several Saturdays through the summer.
“With all of the budget cuts, it’s very difficult to get such a big project like that even started,” she said. “I am just so appreciative, and I know parents and students will be excited.”