Date: January 16, 2012
Time: 8 a.m.
Location: Fairview Elementary School, Denver CO
Roughly 50 volunteers showed up this Martin Luther King Jr. Day to give back to their community. The focus this year? Fairview Elementary School in the Sun Valley Neighborhood: Denver’s most notoriously poor community. Though the school appears to be sturdy and noble from the outside, the inside is struggling. Though Fairview is one of the most richly diverse schools in the Denver system, Nearly 100% of the students at Fairview are on the free lunch plan and the interior of the school was in need of much cosmetic repair. Though a nonprofit like Mile High Youth Corps doesn’t have the capacity to solve the free lunch issue, they tackled what they could do best: getting hands on and dirty.
The event was kicked off by moving speeches by MHYC Executive Director, Kelly Causey, and by Denver school board member, Happy Haynes. Both spoke of Dr. King, his visions, and how even 44 years after his death, his dreams are still alive. With those encouraging words, the volunteers set to work.
The entire group consisted of 28 YouthBuild members, 20 Fairview students, staff and teachers, and MHYC staff, alumni and families. What was accomplished in their four hours of volunteering?
- two cafeteria walls were decorated with painted stencils and encouraging words
- the baseboards of one hallway were touched up with paint
- a boys’ bathroom was repainted
- one auditorium wall was repainted
- inspirational quotes were painted here and there throughout the school, in halls and classrooms
- wooden alphabet letters were creatively painted and displayed in a main hallway
- a couple dozen clay tiles were measured, flattened and cut, with the intent to later be fired, painted and displayed by the students
- snow and ice were removed from the playground to increase safety during recess.
All of this was done by volunteers ranging from kindergartners to senior citizens. The diversity of the group – all ages, races, sexes and creeds – couldn’t have been more fitting for a day devoted to Dr. King. He would have been proud to see the cohesiveness of the people.
Though Fairview is a poverty-stricken school and Sun Valley is an equally ailing neighborhood, it was difficult to see in the faces of the community members. The children laughed, played and participated in the projects with gusto. The parents, MHYC affiliates and other volunteers were equally engaged. It was a very pleasant sight: all of the woes of the community seemed to be forgotten for that few hours. It was certainly a productive and encouraging day for many.
(Photos to come soon!)