Local parks, cemeteries and a school district will benefit Saturday during a huge Day of Service event planned by the Spokane East Stake of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
The volunteers are members of eight different congregations, which are called wards. They will work with the city of Spokane Valley to make improvements to Browns Park, Edgecliff Park and the horse arena below Valley Mission Park. Crews will clean up the Chester Cemetery in the Ponderosa neighborhood and the Mica Cemetery south of Spokane Valley. Downed trees and overgrown saplings will be cleaned up on land owned by the Central Valley School District across from the Chester Cemetery.
The stake has done days of service before and usually tries to do them in September, said Day of Service Committee chairman Mark Spear. This year the day is a national effort by the Mormon Church. Spear said the volunteers wanted to help their community with their event and so picked public agencies to help.
“Everywhere we turn, budgets have been cut back,” he said. “We wanted to find an opportunity to serve where we live.”
Spokane Valley Parks and Recreation Director Mike Stone said that at two of the parks volunteers will be removing about nine inches of pea gravel underneath the play equipment and replacing it with softer, high-tech wood fiber. The city will also provide the supplies necessary to repaint the picnic shelters and restrooms in both parks.
At the horse arena, the plan is to replace the roof on one or possibly two small buildings, Stone said.
“They have a licensed and bonded roofing contractor in their midst,” Stone said. “It will be people who have some skill and experience.”
Stone said he appreciates the help with two heavily used parks.
“It gets us looking a little better,” he said. “It’ll cost us a little bit of money, but the benefit is very good. You can’t buy that connection with the community.”
Spear said volunteers will focus on mowing grass and trimming trees and bushes in the cemeteries. Neither is maintained regularly. Spear said he drove down to take a look at the Mica Cemetery before adding it to his project list.
“It just is a mess,” he said. “It’s really, really neglected.”
During last year’s Day of Service volunteers did work on several Central Valley School District sites, but didn’t have time to get to the vacant land the district owns near the cemetery. Spear said he suggested doing clean up on the site this year. Crews will start at the street and work their way into the center of the site.
“We’re trying to make it look good for the neighbors,” he said. “It’s very overgrown.”
Members of St. Mary’s Catholic Church and the Episcopal Church of the Resurrection also plan to join the effort, Spear said.
All volunteers are being asked to bring a few cans of food for the Spokane Valley Partners Food Bank to spread their help even further.
Spear said he expects between 400 and 500 volunteers on Saturday working from 8:30 a.m. to noon. “We’re going to do as much as we can in three and a half hours,” he said.