Five local churches contributed to a broad community service day on Sunday coordinated by Church on the Rock. Other churches included the Christian Community Church, Homer Assembly of God, Regent Life Church and Faith Lutheran. Volunteers were asked to sign up for various teams to participate in organized service activities for local organizations, city parks, personal neighborhoods, hospice and encouragement for families and individuals in need. Activities also included things such as dump runs, oil changes, beach cleanup, home repair and maintenance, painting picnic tables, weeding and flower planting.
The event this year drew about 300 community members and approximately 1,300 volunteer hours, according to Pastor Drew Simpson with Church on the Rock.
“This event was inspired by the ACF Church in Anchorage’s “Impact Alaska” project that offers services like our to Anchorage, communities in the Valley and other places in the state,” Simpson said.
Last year was the first year of Homer’s project, launched to see how things might work. Simpson worked with Homer’s Associate Planner for Parks and Trails, Matt Steffy, to get a sense of what the community might need. “This year we decided to try and include the other churches, provide service on the same day as ‘Impact Alaska’ but title ours ‘Serve the City,” Simpson said.
“We also ask members of the church to recommend projects they think might be helpful or be able to provide certain goods or services based on what they do with personal businesses already. As a church, though, this provides an opportunity to engage in things or meet a need that they might not know about. It also provides an avenue for people to be a blessing and serve the community in a certain way— to share hobbies, passions, services or skills,” he said.
Once the projects are developed, they are assigned a leader. This year there were approximately 30 projects available for people to choose from, some of them are larger than others. One large project, for example, was the “Karen Hornaday Park” team that included moving wood chips, removal of campground equipment, painting and staining picnic tables, fixing equipment and cutting down trees.
“People won’t be camping up there this summer, so the city had us pull out and cover fire pits and picnic tables. But, they still want people to be able to use the space so we also chain sawed and contributed to another volunteer team effort to install a nine-hole disc golf course,” Simpson said.
Funding for the project comes a combination of sources.
“The churches fund some of it. Church members contribute but anything that is a city project is paid for by the city. They have a reduced number of employees than usual right now so they can contribute to materials like lumber, dirt for flower beds, or wood chips, but not the employee hours available for all the projects.
“The city can also provide waivers, in some cases, if there’s certain equipment we might be able to use,” Simpson said.
Jan Keiser, director of the City of Homer Public Works Department, said the city provides a list of projects it needs help with, prioritizes them and provides material and supplies, like paint.
“Working in the Park (Karen Hornaday), seemed like a good fit for the whole range of volunteer skills — kids through to skilled technical labor,” she said. “One of the things they really started with last year was focused on picnic tables: the kids could slap the paint on and people with tools could make the repairs.”
Keiser said a lot of people turned out last year and that it worked so well they decided to enlarge the project this year.
“I was out at Jack Gist park and they were building new bleachers in the dug-out seats, and there was a man out there teaching a little tiny girl how to use a drill to punch holes in the lumber.
“It was so fun to see everyone involved in the projects. It was so cool to see,” she said.
If there are suggestions for projects that might benefit from work in the future, contact the City of Homer Public Works Department.