Tales from Utah Valley: Volunteering gets the job done
Just this month, more than 3,000 community volunteers worked to rebuild Discovery Park in Pleasant Grove, updating playground structures to make them more safe and accessible. Twenty-three years ago, the park was originally built by community volunteers as well. In 2016, more than 4,000 volunteers worked for 6.5 days to build Orem’s All-Together Playground, a playground designed for all abilities.
This sense of community and volunteerism for a common cause definitely can get the job done. If playgrounds can be built in a week’s time by people who are largely inexperienced, imagine what else we can do if we donate our time and work together.
Just a couple of miles from Discovery Park at Tabitha’s Way Food Pantry in American Fork, volunteers donate about 1,200 hours of their time monthly to help provide food for those going through financial hardships. That location provides food for about 3,000 people each month.
Why do people enjoy giving their time without pay? Comments on the Pleasant Grove Community Connection Facebook page illustrate how much people loved volunteering for the Discovery Park rebuild.
“What a week! It was amazing to see everyone working together,” reads one comment.
“It made my heart sing!” reads another.
Jamie Nettesheim took five of her children to help with the park rebuild last week. “I have been taking my kids to play at Discovery Park for years and they are excited for the new and improved version,” she said.
“On Saturday, we got to work together as a family setting poles, leveling them, shoveling gravel, tamping the sand and maneuvering the wheelbarrow around more holes,” Nettesheim said. “It was something we could all do together. It was definitely manual labor, but it was still so much fun and so rewarding to see the progress.”
Before the family went, Nettesheim’s older kids weren’t excited about waking up early on a Saturday morning to go help, but later, they all said it was more fun than they expected it to be and wanted to go back.
“I enjoyed being able to meet and interact with lots of different people while we worked together. I think this was an amazing feat that Pleasant Grove put together and it was so much fun to be a part of it,” she said.
In addition to helping rebuild the play structures, others put in volunteer hours creating artworks at the park and providing childcare for those who were doing the rebuilding.
Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others?’” Thousands of Utah Valley residents answer that question with their actions every day.
Volunteer opportunities in Utah Valley include Tabitha’s Way Food Pantries, local libraries’ literacy centers, Center for Women and Children in Crisis, various cities’ summer celebration committees and many, many more. A great place to start looking is http://unitedwayuc.org.