Unseasonable weather certainly wasn’t going to stop this group.  They boasted strength in numbers and an undeniable determination to make a difference in the community.

A sizable contingency of volunteers from St. Edward High School and Lakewood United Methodist Church gathered in the city’s Historic Birdtown Neighborhood on Saturday, May 14, in an effort coordinated by LakewoodAlive.  Unfazed by the chilly temperature and periodic rainfall, the group – 75 strong – collectively spent an estimated 300 volunteer hours completing four simultaneous curb appeal projects within the proud, working-class neighborhood.

“We talk all the time about service leadership, about bringing positive energy and being supportive of community members who need help.  We really want to be a good steward for our community here in Lakewood,” said Rick Kubrak, Director of Service & Outreach at St. Edward High School.  “The weather actually cooperated fairly well for us.  It sprinkled and misted a bit, but our volunteers were super motivated and able to power through.”

The collection of students, parents and alumni from St. Ed’s tackled three beautification projects on Coutant Avenue.  They mulched flowerbeds, removed debris from a former koi pond and planted hydrangeas and other greenery.  Cleaning an overgrown backyard, the volunteers filled two tree lawns with refuse for the City of Lakewood to dispose of – all while preserving existing flowering trees.

St. Edward High School volunteers

St. Edward High School volunteers complete one of three projects on Coutant Avenue.

Meanwhile several blocks southwest of Coutant on Dowd Avenue, a group from Lakewood United Methodist Church overhauled a front and backyard for a grateful Birdtown resident.  The dedicated group cleared debris, trimmed overgrowth and landscaped their way to a beautiful finished product with highly-visible curb appeal.

“We were privileged and honored to serve our community through LakewoodAlive,” said Pastor Laura Jaissle of Lakewood United Methodist Church.  “With a small time investment, we were able to make a big difference and really help our fellow community members.”

Dowd Avenue volunteer project

A before-after comparison from the volunteer project on Dowd Avenue.

The annual volunteer project was spearheaded by LakewoodAlive, a community-centered non-profit organization striving to foster and sustain the vibrancy of Lakewood’s neighborhoods.  LakewoodAlive’s Community Engagement Program offers outreach to homeowners and residents in low-to-moderate income neighborhoods to support affordable housing, cultivate a sense of pride and leverage the power of neighborhood relationships.

In this particular case, that shared sense of pride among the volunteers and residents was palpable.

“The total transformation from beginning to end was unbelievable,” added Kubrak.  “We were able to help these families, and it was a nice reward for our volunteers to see that type of impact.  Just a wonderful experience overall, and we’d love to do it again.”

The St. Ed’s group celebrated the project’s success with a cookout afterwards in the school’s cafeteria.  It was a well-deserved lunch for folks with an appetite for impactful volunteerism.