On our honeymoon 2 years and one month ago (2 years...what?!?!), Ryan informed me that he had signed us up for a service project through his church, The Summit. So, in my first week of living in Durham, during the unloading boxes and getting settled in phase of new married life, we went and worked alongside others from The Summit on a house with Habitat for Humanity for the "Week of Hope" (now called "ServeRDU").
It didn't take long to realize that The Summit Church is serious about taking care of the needs of its local community (Raleigh/Durham/Chapel Hill) and I've never seen or been a part of a church that has such a heart for serving others all the time. We are supposed to serve others just like Christ did, but we don't always do that. The Summit is constantly seeking out needs in the community and advertising opportunities for members to serve and gives lots of money to organizations that lack funding for their needs. God has really blessed Ryan and I and taught us so much through this church in the two years we've been here (six for Ryan - it's the same church he went to during college).
Cheesy as it sounds, Ryan and I made a list of goals one time soon after we were married on the drive back from GA (too many 5 hour drives up I-85...what else is there to do, ha!). It was a list of things we wanted to do over the span of three years and included fun stuff, serious stuff, etc. Like go to Italy...11 months left to make that happen...doubtful! :) Anyways, one of our goals was to participate in ServeRDU every year that we live in Durham, as well as other serve opportunities throughout the year. While The Summit is constantly providing ways to serve in the community, ServeRDU is a full week of service projects that a ton of people from the church participate in every year in July. So, our first year, we did the Habitat project that I mentioned above. Then last year, we along with our small group worked in a local park that was pretty run down - we painted the bathroom house, trash cans, playground, picnic tables, benches, grills; picked up trash; pruned the grounds etc.
This year, our small group was working on different projects instead of one together, so Ryan and I were trying to decide which one to do. One of the things The Summit did this year was partner with all of the local schools: elementary, middle, and high, and provided volunteers to meet whatever needs the school had in an effort to establish a relationship with each school in the community. One of the projects that Ryan discovered was working on one of the local high school's football facilities that needed some work, but didn't have the funding for it. He mentioned it to Matt, Wes, and Banks who got excited about it and Matt even announced it to the football leadership group which brought Patrick Egboh on board.
So, on Friday afternoon, Ryan and I took off work and we all headed over to Riverside High School to join about 15 other Summit members to paint lockers, repair broken locks, and clean paint off the floor with turpentine. The Head Football Coach, who was out cutting the football field grass himself in 90 degree weather when we arrived, had been wanting to hang some shelves in his equipment room/storage closet that he had not been able to get around to, so Ryan, Matt, Wes, Banks, and Egboh took on the project while I swept the mounds of dirt, trash, spiders and crickets that were hidden behind all the equipment we moved out of the way to make room for the shelves.
It was an outdoor storage room with no AC and it was HOT! We were all drenched with sweat and dirt after 10 minutes, but these guys were workers!
I mean, how could they not have fun when they had power tools to play with? (Adam Banks...aka Banksy)
The Head Football Coach came in to meet the guys and thank them. He seemed to really appreciate their help. In high school football around here, it's a one-man show for the football coach apparently. He cuts the field grass himself, keeps up the facilities on his own, does the laundry, manages the equipment...all of it himself. So clearly, these much-needed shelves and the locker room repairs had gotten bumped down his to-do list with so much else to take care of. Made Matt and Ryan realize how special of a high school football program Buford is, where they have facilities as nice as Division 1 colleges athletics' facilities!
All in all, when the week of ServeRDU was over, there had been 20 project locations, over 1,500 volunteers, 6,566 hours of service, and tens of thousands of dollars donated to the local community.
There were lots of projects at schools, charter schools, boarding schools, free medical/dental/eye clinics, cribs were built and baby showers were thrown for women at Pregnancy Support services, there was a Red Cross blood drive, and lots more...
Here's a brief video summary that was shown at church Sunday morning of this year's ServeRDU last week.
ServeRDU from The Summit Church on Vimeo.
It was a great week of The Summit serving and building relationships all around this community and I'm so glad we were able to be a part of it!