Dorothy Jilbert started boiling eggs at 6 a.m. Thursday and had colored more than 400 by the time she stopped for her morning coffee.
“You bring them to a full rolling boil and then you let them sit for 15 minutes,” she said. “You take them out, then give them a twirl. When they spin fast they’re done. I like blue.”
Lynn Weiler was off to a slower start. “I’ve done 15 dozen this morning. I just started. I’m probably going to do 150 dozen.”
The women were among the volunteers Thursday preparing for an Easter festival on Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Shaw Middle School, 4106 N. Cook.
Sponsored by the community policing network in Hillyard known as COPS Northeast, the event is consuming counter and stovetop space all over the neighborhood.
By tonight, 5,000 eggs will have been boiled inside more than a dozen homes. It will take an hour to stash them around the school lawn, which will be converted into an egg metropolis on Saturday.
Altogether, volunteers may put in 200 hours preparing eggs, food, games and activities for the 1,000 kids expected to attend. How long will it take to find all the eggs?
“Five minutes,” predicts Weiler, 55, a mother and grandmother who is organizing the Easter egg hunt and rally.
Jilbert, 67, has lived in the same Hillyard house since 1947.
Her 91-year-old mother lives next door and the family on the other side has a 3-year-old girl who calls her grandma.
“We just wanted to do something for kids in the neighborhood,” she said, “that’s how this came about. Not everyone wants to go downtown to Riverfront Park.”
The effort by COPS Northeast demonstrates how a few of the more established community policing programs in Spokane have evolved into neighborhood-service centers.
They’ve offered tutoring, dinner theater, home repairs and snow plowing for the elderly, dispute resolution, landlord-tenant information and resources on government and youth activities.
Volunteers at COPS Southeast in Lincoln Heights, for instance, stepped up to help Spokane’s public television station KSPS during the recent fund drive.
They also raised money at Silver Lanes so kids could participate in youth bowling leagues.
Volunteer Bob Hooper said the cop shop in a storefront office at 29th Avenue and Regal has tried to fill a community need aside from its work patrolling neighborhood streets, taking graffiti reports and staffing the police desk.
“We don’t have anything that is anywhere near a community center on the South Hill, but we can still work with the community to make it safer and give them more activities,” he said.
Likewise, COPS Northeast initiated a Friday night drop-in program for teens at Shaw where they can play basketball, hear music, play board games or just visit. It started with 30 kids and topped out last month with more than 300.
COPS Northeast President Del Irish wonders all the time why the program works when others fail to attract kids.
“We’re still trying to figure it out. We don’t understand why it works. It just does.”
Substations have been a way to solve traffic problems and gather information on code enforcement violators. It is the only effort that brings people together in their own neighborhood on things residents themselves feel are important, said substation organizers.
Volunteers are helped by a telephone list of other potential volunteers and there’s no one around to say they can’t do something.
Adds Deborah Wittwer, president of the effort in the Nevada-Lidgerwood neighborhood, “You have all these volunteers, you’re trying to build a neighborhood and you have to keep them busy.”
At Weiler’s home the odor from eggs and vinegar traces outside and six crates of eggs sit hip high on her front porch, awaiting their Easter fate.
That’s a lot of eggs, remarks a visitor.
“I dream about them,’ she said.
, DataTimes ILLUSTRATION: Color photo
MEMO: This sidebar appeared with the story: BUNNY HUNT The Shaw Middle School egg hunts will be divided into three age groups. Kids under the age of 3 start at 11 a.m.; ages 4 and 5 start at 11:30 and ages 6 to 12 begin at noon. Admission is $1 or one can of food for the Food Bank.