MARYSVILLE — Pinewood Elementary, the Tulalip Boys & Girls Club and Allen Creek were just a few local focal points of the United Way of Snohomish County’s 19th annual “Days of Caring” volunteer event on Friday, Sept. 21, and Saturday, Sept. 22.
“Each year, 1,000 volunteers serve more than 6,000 hours at more than 70 project sites benefiting nonprofits throughout the county,” said Neil Parekh, vice president of marketing and communications for United Way of Snohomish County. “Local companies, service clubs, families, individuals and even nonprofit groups come together to volunteer in Snohomish County.”
On Sept. 21, Pinewood Elementary received a visit from an estimated 40 volunteers who focused on rehabilitating the school’s disused garden and cleaning up its campus, while a number of the school’s students volunteered to help paint a mural designed by Beth Ha, the Pinewood Elementary PTSA secretary, Reflections chair and art docent who coordinated the day’s labors with United Way and its volunteering organizations.
“One way to make sure we don’t get graffiti is to show people how much we care about this school,” Ha said to a student painter when she asked why the mural was an important project.
Ha clarified when speaking to adults that the garden “is probably our main project for today,” due to its demonstrated value in previous years as an educational tool.
“We’ve also got people repainting lines on the playground, sweeping and washing the courtyard, and refreshing the planters,” Ha said. “Projects like this are powerful in times of economic hardship. Budget reductions continue to pose challenges, but we don’t have to be victims to that. We need to get creative. Our community still cares.”
David Reed, an employee of participating Everett company Intermec, had four children who attended Pinewood Elementary before they grew up and started families of their own, so he was pleased to grab a broom that Friday and return to familiar environs.
“I was surprised that they picked this location,” Reed said. “It feels very comfortable, though, and in all the years my kids went to school here, this is the first time I’ve taken part in a project to help out this campus, so it’s a nice opportunity to show my appreciation.”
Pinewood Elementary fifth-graders Jakob Van Marter and Xavior Curry agreed that they were glad to pitch in for their school, even though they struggled fiercely to uproot some deep-seeded weeds.
On Sept. 22, the refurbishments of the Tulalip Boys & Girls Club were rescheduled slightly due to the morning’s “rain blessing,” according to Administration Office Manager Diane Prouty.
“We were going to prime and paint the timber,” Prouty said, as more than 50 volunteers from Community Transit and Aviation Technical Services in Everett grabbed hammers, shovels and other tools. “Our volunteers were still able to stain and fix the picnic tables, and relocate the red rocks from up front to the marshy areas in back to form a path to the storage shed.”
Volunteers also replaced the timber, mulch and plants in the planter areas around the building, but postponed their planned work on the playground since it’s set to receive a rain cover later on, which would disrupt the soil and surrounding areas. As with the Allen Creek project taking place in Marysville that same day, blackberries and vine-berries were also removed.
“It looks gorgeous,” Prouty said of the results of the volunteers’ toil. “We never could have gotten around to these repairs and improvements on our own. We don’t even have any maintenance or janitorial staff, so it’s up to all 26 of the Tulalip Boys & Girls Club staff members to keep the inside clean, which is an all-day job.”
Prouty hadn’t even realized that the Tulalip Boys & Girls Club was eligible for a United Way Days of Caring project before she spoke with Anita Rutherford, employee campaign manager for United Way of Snohomish County.
“I’ve done Days of Caring for years, but this is my first one here,” said Matt Yerbic, president and CEO of ATS. “I’m happy to be here.”
“There’s just not enough hours in the day to help these folks,” said fellow volunteer Karen Johnson of CT.
Prouty also thanked Home Depot for offering a “huge discount” on supplies.
In the 9300 block of 67th Avenue NE, Sound Salmon Solutions and the Adopt A Stream Foundation were joined by members of the Marysville YMCA Minority Achievers Program and United Way’s Youth United in planting 450 trees and shrubs, as well as 250 live stakes.
“The live stakes are leafless willow branches that can take root and grow,” said Brooke Clement, an ecologist with the Adopt A Stream Foundation who plans to return to the site on Saturday, Oct. 13. “We should have almost 800 trees and shrubs in this area by the time we’re done, but today we’re just working one-and-a-third of the 4.4 total acres of the site.”
Clement explained that such coniferous plants provide deeper shade for the salmon than the reed canary grass already growing there, thereby affording them a better habitat.
Marysville Assistant Fire Marshal David VanBeek, who dug holes for trees with Darryl Aoki, praised the number of younger volunteers for stepping up to become stewards of the environment, while Clement encouraged those who are interested in the Oct. 13 event to email her at email@example.com.