GCU’S Army of Volunteers Serves the City
By Doug Carroll
How quickly could you paint the exterior of a house? A weekend? A day?
Would you believe … three hours?
Armed with rollers, brushes and big buckets of paint, a GCU team of 20 volunteers under the leadership of Sarah Clayton launched into attack mode on Saturday morning, March 20, at a home in the 3500 block of West Campbell Avenue. The task also involved some tree trimming and yard cleanup.
Before noon, the workers were done and heading back to campus for sandwiches.
“The best part is serving our community, but it’s also a chance to hang out with students and work as a team,” said Clayton, the resident director of the North Rim Apartments.
For Serve the City, purple-shirted volunteers were divided into seven teams to tackle projects across the Canyon Corridor neighborhood. Work was done at the Willow Springs apartment complex and also at six homes in the community. Five of the homes received a fresh coat of paint, most of which had been donated by Rebuilding Together of Tempe.
Stacy Haddow, a senior in the Ken Blanchard College of Business from Chino Valley, was part of Clayton’s team. She did similar work last spring at a home near 27th and Missouri avenues.
This was the third spring version of Serve the City, and there have been five overall.
“It’s just nice to know we’re doing something for somebody who might not be able to do it for themselves,” Haddow said.
Carol Ollendick of Human Resources brought along her son Travis, a senior at Apollo High School who will attend GCU in the fall, to help out.
“I used to be these people,” Carol said of the families in need. “Now we can give back. It makes you appreciate what you have.”
Officer Dave Sanderson of the Cactus Park branch of the Phoenix Police Department stopped by to observe and was impressed by the teamwork.
“It would be helpful if there were more efforts like this,” he said. “Every little bit helps.”
The camaraderie of the spirited student volunteers made the day for Howard Norman, a Doctoral Specialist who recently began work for GCU out of the Tempe office.
Norman wasn’t quite sure of what to expect when he signed up, but on Saturday he was glad that he had.
“These are great kids,” Norman said of the students. “It shows what purposeful people with energy can do. They’re working, they’re singing along to the radio. They kind of self-managed this. They have good organizational skills.”
Dean of Students Mik Milem said GCU works with two nonprofit organizations — Canyon Corridor Weed & Seed and Maryvale Revitalization — to identify homes needing help.
The next opportunity for a similar project will be in the fall, on the third Saturday in October, and will involve school beautification work in the Canyon Corridor.
“With Serve the City, you get to see the finished product of your work,” Milem said. “You get real satisfaction from that.”
Reach Doug Carroll at 602.639.8011 or at [email protected].