44 volunteers showed up at the Stephens-Lee Community Center on Saturday, January 15, to give the center’s gymnasium a new coat of paint in observance of Martin Luther King Jr. day. The service project, organized by the City of Asheville’s Volunteer Program, saw participants from the community as well as the city’s Parks Maintenance division, cadets from the Asheville Police Department, students from Christ School and teens participating in the City of Asheville Youth Leadership Academy (CAYLA). It took the group only two hours to complete the job, reported the city’s Neighborhood/Volunteer Coordinator Marsha Stickford.
Stickford said Saturday’s event was the first in what she hopes will become an annual volunteer service effort celebrating the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. “We would like to identify opportunities every year for Martin Luther King Jr. day that will benefit the community,” Stickford said. The event, she continued, compliments the city’s participation in the Day of Caring held in September and coordinated by Hands on Asheville-Buncombe, an organization that was also a driving force behind the MLK Jr. weekend event. “They have been instrumental in the community with regards to a day of service on Martin Luther King Jr. day,” Stickford said. A third volunteer project will be planned for the spring, she said.
The roster of volunteers for the Stephens-Lee project filled quickly, as participants invited friends and relatives to be part of the volunteer day. “A lot of the APD cadets brought extra volunteers,” she said.
Superintendent of Parks Kathleen Connor, who alongside Park Maintenance staff set up volunteers with paint, rollers and brushes, said the new coat of paint is an important step in the Parks, Recreation and Cultural Arts Department’s priority of revamping of the center’s gym that will eventually include new lighting and floor resurfacing.