On June 14, 2009 groups of volunteers emerged to “Go Beyond” and help clean and restore the baseball field and park surrounding the Roller and Recreation Facility in St. Louis, Missouri.
Among these groups were Major League Baseball employees, various AmeriCorps, AmeriCorps VISTA volunteers and Rawlings workers. Six VISTAs, myself included, from SGSM Network, a non-profit that provides services to senior citizens were excited to start the day and work with others in the community.
We removed trash, weeds, and painted benches at the park. As we headed to our area, my original thought was that the site did not need a lot of work, but at least at the end of the day it would look a bit nicer.
After a couple minutes of trash removal, the real goal of the day became evident; this was not only to improve the park’s beauty, but its safety. As I began picking through the gravel, I realized there were thousands of pieces of glass mixed in under the slides and swings in which kids play on. We spent the next four hours digging through pebbles, removing the glass, and using leg muscles that I swear did not exist before that day!
Although it was a tedious task, with small visual results, the amount of buried glass we picked up will leave an impact that is more than aesthetic pleasure and recognition, but one of safety, cleanliness and security. We walked away knowing that the kids were safer.
Once the service project was finished, we ate our lunch on the newly renovated baseball field. The kids of the Roller and Recreation Facility provided entertainment in the form of song and dance as a thank you for the work we did. Their "Michael Jackson" moves won the hearts of the crowd as everyone began clapping and singing along.
They were very appreciative of all the volunteers and also excited to play in the park and on the field. A ribbon cutting ceremony proceeded, as did a volunteer photo shoot.
It was great to be surrounded by so many people who have one common goal: to improve the lives of those in their community. The day ended as we walked away with the satisfaction that we contributed to the betterment of a safe and fun place for St. Louis’s youth to enjoy!