Church members work, rain or shine

When it rains, it pours. And April 27 was no exception for members of the Federal Way Stake of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.

It was raining as more than 150 church members poured into the gymnasium of their Federal Way meeting house, ready to brave the weather outside on their annual Community Service Day.

The Federal Way Stake has partnered with Volunteer Chore Services of King County (VCS) in an effort to serve VCS’ long list of clients, whose needs range from physical (yard work, household cleaning and home repairs) to emotional (a friendly conversation or reading mail to those visually impaired).

“VCS provides a tremendous opportunity for us,” said Ron Arndt Sr., director of public affairs for the Federal Way Stake. “By screening volunteers and clients, they provide a secure environment and lay the groundwork for us to have a successful volunteer experience.”

That view was endorsed by Ryan Mortensen, who worked side-by-side April 27 with his 13-year-old son, Tucker.

“Everything was well-organized. All we had to do was show up and go right to work. It was great,” Mortensen said.

After a continental breakfast and some general instruction from project coordinators Kristine Withers of VCS and Arndt, the crowd quickly divided into teams of 15 to 20. By 9 a.m., the groups were headed to seven project sites in Federal Way, Des Moines, Algona, Kent and Renton.

For the next four hours, volunteers mowed lawns, trimmed bushes, weeded flowerbeds, painted walls, sorted recyclable items and hauled more than three tons of debris to the dump.

“I enjoy service but I haven’t done much in the community before, so I thought this was a good opportunity,” said Rick Douglas, who spent his time cleaning the roof of a Federal Way residence.

Douglas’ 18-year old son, Noah, helped by directing drainage off the roof for the water his dad and others used.

“I’ve always gone to activities like this,” said Noah, “I’ve never thought twice about it, really. You get to meet new people and it’s not hard stuff.”

At the end of the day, more than 450 collective hours of service were spent. Volunteers reassembled at the church to enjoy a potluck meal, relax and exchange stories of their experiences that day.

Misty Hawkins recalled squeezing more than 10 people into a small Federal Way apartment that needed repainting.

“The teamwork was great. I enjoyed seeing all my friends working together without any complaints,” Hawkins said. “It’s not service, it’s renewing yourself. I felt really good afterward.”

“You just have to do it,” said Mortensen’s father, Ryan. “Take the leap. You’ll really enjoy it, and it’s well worth it.”

The Federal Way Stake plans to do more community projects through its partnership with VCS, Arndt said.

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