If you see a group of people wearing red shirts next week working on various projects around the community stop by and thank them. Hundreds of volunteers will be improving the community through Impact Church’s Love Week.
Sharing the Love
Impact Church started Love Week in 2012 with just 15 projects focused at school locations. The idea of Love week was inspired by Elevation Church in North Carolina. Student Ministries Pastor Jon Bell says, “It matched our DNA.” Executive Pastor Ryan Kresge eagerly points out that the church doesn’t serve the community for recognition. Volunteers donate time to serve others. Tasks needing attention at Impact’s building are not part of the work accomplished during Love Week. The idea is love is universal and should be shared within the community.
In the beginning projects were based at schools within the district. Ripping out plant material and replacing it with new gardens were a common scene. Eventually city projects were put on the list. And within the last couple of years non-profit organizations are receiving help during Love Week.
Representatives from Impact work with the city and schools to organize projects. Also through networking at event such as weekly Rotary Club meetings leaders of nonprofit organizations have expressed a need for volunteer help. In 2016 volunteers numbering 649 worked on 30 projects. This year 33 projects are planned throughout the week. There are 24 in the City, 4 in Lowell Township, 4 in Vergennes Township, and 1 in Alto. Bob Rogers is coordinating the week-long event with the help of project leaders.
Work at Alpha Family Center was a new location last year. Volunteers took out overgrown shrubs and replaced them with a beautiful garden. A ramp leading to the building was painted and things were cleaned inside and out. Their sign post was painted and new sign installed. All of this work made for an even better unveiling of the organization’s name change and additional services provided to the community.
Some of this year’s endeavors will take place at the Kent County Youth Fairgrounds, Senior Neighbors, LowellArts, Flat River Outreach Ministries, Englehardt Library, and the Lowell Airport. At the new LowellArts location on Main Street volunteers will work on gutting the second floor. Yellow paint will be chipped off some curb along Main Street where parking is allowed but was not at one time. The biggest project of the year is replacing the playground equipment at Stoney Lakeside Park. The duration at each location is dependent upon what work is being done. Some projects are completed within a few hours or one day. Others take multiple days or the entire week.
All Work for Others to Play
In fall of 2016 Bob and Amanda Rogers began working on raising funds to replace the playground equipment at Stoney Lakeside Park. In a Facebook group the community voted for their favorite structure. A total of $14,266 was raised and a grant was written for the remaining balance and submitted to the Lowell Area Community Fund (LACF). In February of this year the LACF indicated they’d give $28,000 if an additional $15,000 was raised by the community. The Rogers worked again to raise additional funding. Between last fall and early spring a total of $58,930 was raised through 10 local businesses, 7 organizations, 26 individuals, and a grant from the LACF. King Milling donated $3,000. Impact contributed $5,000. Key Heights and Valley Vista, both under the same management, each gave $1,500. The community came together to make it all happen.
Next week the work will continue. The old equipment will be removed and replaced with a new structure, which is in part ADA compliant. It would cost about $16,500 for the equipment to be installed. But thanks to a Love Week project the new playground will be installed by volunteers. Swiss Lane Dairy will be providing heavy equipment to help with demolition of the current structure. Waste Masters is donating a dumpster rental and dump fee. Twin Pines Landscaping will be bringing a skid steer with auger to help dig holes. A representative from the vendor with which the equipment was purchased will be on site for a couple of days to guide construction. And Lowell’s DPW Director Rich LaBombard will ensure the installation process is done correctly. His department will be responsible for maintenance of the equipment going forward.
Thank the Red Shirts
If you’re out next week and see a group of people wearing red shirts working somewhere in the community stop by and thank them. Last year the inquisitive owner of Three Brothers Pizza wondered what some volunteers were doing. After learning about Love Week projects he donated pizza for volunteers one day. The spirit of Love Week can easily spread past projects around the community.
New this year First Baptist Church is partnering with Impact and will take on projects at the Middle School and High School. The idea of love, while different for individuals, is easily spread through outreach projects and volunteers working with Impact Church. Activities take place one week each year but the impact lasts much longer. While they do not look for or expect recognition, hundreds of people care enough about the Lowell community to want to participate in Love Week.