Armed with elbow grease, rakes and a spirit of service, about 180 volunteers from Gonzaga University’s April’s Angels teamed up with nonprofit Rebuilding Together Spokane to renovate and repair the St. Joseph Family Center in the Logan Neighborhood on Saturday.
“We’re happy,” said Mary Mulvey, a student coordinator and freshman at GU. “We’re pretty proud of how many students came out.”
Gonzaga students, alumni, faculty, staff, trustees and regents all pitched in on the daylong project. GU also recruited members of its maintenance department to help with the things that require more skilled labor.
The project, April’s Angels’ 18th annual, required a lot of planning and collaboration “from site selection, to the scope of the work, to the implementation,” said Rebuilding Together Spokane board President Dave Tutt.
“It always feels like there’re a million things to do and not enough time to do it,” Tutt said. “But everyone pulls together and makes it happen.”
The center was chosen, in part, because of its close proximity to the GU campus, which helps the volunteers “have some ownership over where they live,” said student coordinator Kirsten Aasen, a GU junior.
The center, which provides family services ranging from counseling and classes to massage therapy and reflexology, has been in the Logan Neighborhood since 1890, said Executive Director Sister Pat.
“It is a special place,” she said.
Along with the volunteer labor, tools and material came from an in-kind grant Rebuilding Together awarded the center, which, like many other nonprofits, has seen its funding dwindle. Among a lengthy list of chores, the volunteers weeded, landscaped, repainted a large garage, and are working on revamping the entryway.
“It’s a great partnership we’ve been able to build with April’s Angels and Rebuilding Together Spokane,” said grants manager Liz Backstrom. “We’re definitely planning to apply next year.”
Without the helping hands, the work would have taken the center’s one maintenance employee six months – and cost thousands of dollars.
“We’d rather use our money for the people that we serve,” she added. “The power of collective humanity, it’s just amazing to see what we can do. A six-month to-do list is gone. It’s mind-blowing.”
“It’s just great that we get to do it with a bunch of people who want to help out,” said student volunteer Saba Mateos, a GU freshman. “People that want to give up their Saturday to be here to help other people.”
Mateos washed windows, weeded and worked to fix a toilet on the fritz.
“Even the dirty work needs to be done,” she said. “I absolutely love any service job I can do to help other people out. I’ve been doing a lot of little jobs, but even little jobs are big jobs when you’re helping out.”