Friday was such a beautiful day and since it was the First-Annual Serve Ohio day, four local groups had young people at Mound Park to serve the community to clean and beautify the park to make it safe for use by neighborhood children. Approximately 35 participants were at the park working and still more were coming in to help.
According to ServeOhio, nearly 400 youth volunteers participated in a total of 13 service projects across the state to commemorate the first annual ServeOhio Day. In its inaugural year, ServeOhio Day exists to encourage and promote hands-on youth volunteer engagement while school is out for the summer.
“We have a group of kids that come to our place as clients and they have come to help, said Connie Lawson of Path Integrated Healthcare located at 902 Gallia Street, Portsmouth .” PATH Integrated Healthcare is an organization that specializes in providing high quality, innovative behavioral health and substance abuse treatment via strength-based solutions and positive approaches to care. “We brought about 15 with us to work today.”
Monique Harmon, from Great Works Ministry, says it is a nonprofit that focuses on youth in the juvenile court system, recovery and mentoring. “This is a part of a grant, there are different organizations here and we are going to have events the entire month of June,” Harmon said. “We have one tomorrow, which is a picnic at 5:00 p.m. and we will have bouncy houses, a movie and things like that.”
John Evans, the founder of RAW Addiction also brought a group “we try to bring awareness and educate the community on this drug epidemic we have going on and we try to collaborate on with Great Works Ministry and several other recovery centers around here,” Evans said. “We pretty much, or what our intentions were in the first place, was to bring everyone together to make it that much bigger and that much better. What we promote is change, we try to bring change because we live in a broken community with everything that is going on.
“We do a Saturday night live at 9:00 p.m. and we try to educate the community cause a lot of people sit behind their doors and feel that as long as we are working and our kids are going to school, we’re fine, it doesn’t affect us, but if you get your car broken into you are not,” Evans said. “Since I started RAW Addiction about a year and half ago, we’ve not only reached these people here in this community, but we’ve reached everywhere in the world, like South Africa and Australia. These people want to talk about their addiction or their recovery and it just goes to show, it’s the same everywhere. It’s gonna continue to be this way until us adults step up and do things.” He had all four of his kids there to serve and help out. “Anything positive, no matter our background, we try to do something new every month.”
Terra Bowen from Moving Forward Residential located on St. Rt. 104 in McDermott, said, “we’re a 16 in-patient facility for men ages of 18 and above. We brought all 16 of our men, they are all here We always try to get involved in any type of positive thing, where they can give back to their community. This helps them to really feel good about themselves and to give back in a positive way. People bring you in and there is no judgment. We have been open two years in September and I am director there, it is a private facility owned by Michelle and Jarodd Lawson.”
The folks working at Mound Park were wearing T-shirts given by Great Works Ministry who was awarded the grant. “The first 45 kids that came to work, we said we’d give them a shirt, the grant also provided the bags, gloves, masks, and other safety materials for the young people to use,” Harmon said.
ServeOhio, a Governor-appointed commission that was created to strengthen Ohio communities through AmeriCorps and volunteer engagement, awarded grants to 13 nonprofit organizations supporting community service projects that build or improve community assets or infrastructure. These include parks, schools, senior centers, community gardens and homes in low-income areas.
“There is a great need across the state for engaged volunteerism, and we continue to be inspired by youth who are eager to roll up their sleeves, help out where they can and have fun while doing it,” said William Hall, executive director of ServeOhio. “Our hope is that ServeOhio Day continues to grow each year and inspires Ohioans in all pockets of the state to get involved at the local level.”
ServeOhio Day intentionally takes place on the summer solstice, the day in the year with the longest period of daylight, to maximize participation in a number of service projects ranging from educating at-risk youth about summer safety to community clean-ups.
Reach Kimberly Jenkins (740) 353-3101 ext. 1928
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