Neighborhoods don’t become littered and run down overnight. It takes a while. A discarded bottle here; a forgotten park there, houses abandoned one by one; it’s hardly noticeable until, “urban blight” has taken over.
Likewise, it takes more than a day or a weekend to restore a neighborhood to a state where the residents can feel proud they live there. It’s one lot at a time, one trash pile cleaned up, one less bottle in the gutter, and there are no short cuts. It takes people actually getting out into the neighborhood, bending over, picking up, cutting grass, weeds, even renegade trees, until, one empty lot, one block at a time.
That’s what’s been going on at Dayton Christian Center (DXC) over the summer. Over a period of four months, a number of deeply committed volunteers groups have dedicated they days to helping restore a neglected park, clean up trash, cut down high weeds, plant flowers, and spread mulch in the area of West Riverview and Ferguson Avenues to do their part to make a better world.
The chapter in this effort happened this past Saturday, July 23 when 19 young people came to DXC as part of the INROADS Intern Process and took part in three different projects.
One project was to clean up an illegal trash dump on one of the abandoned properties DXC has registered to care for. Another was recovering our playground with new safety mulch – we’re required by law to do that once a year – and the third project was redecorating the Teddy Bear Room.
Ignoring extreme temperatures – over 90 degrees – and equally high humidity, the young college students did the hard work of community beautification that others have started.
By the end of the day, every project was finished, and even though they were hot and tired, there was a smile on the face of each one of them. As they gathered for a group photo, they laughed about some of the day’s events, and spoke of how much they had enjoyed themselves. They even thanked us for letting them work so hard.
“We always cherish our volunteers,” Associate Executive Director Sarah Williams said afterwards, “but when you see young people like this spending the hottest part of the day mostly outdoors doing physical labor, and they are happy about it, it gives you a wonderful sense of hope. Of course we always thank our volunteers, and we really mean it – we’re always very grateful for whatever someone cares to give us. But sometimes, in cases like this, ‘thanks’ doesn’t seem like quite enough.”
This was DXC’s first partnership with the INROADS program, but very likely not the last.
“I really hope we can make this an annual event,” Williams said. “I know we’re extremely happy to have met everyone who came to help us out, and I hope it was an enjoyable day for them as well, so I hope we can keep on doing projects together.”
The INROADS Internship Process was created in 1970 by Frank C. Carr. Inspired by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr’s “I Have A Dream” speech. Carr, a corporate executive, left his well-paid, prestigious position to dedicate himself to quick and decisive action to increase diversity in the corporate management. Currently, the program has more than 270 Corporate Sponsors and nearly 2,000 college students taking part. It has more than 24,000 graduates and 36 offices in the US, Mexico and Canada.
In addition to offering young people a chance to develop the skills they need to advance in the corporate world, it also emphasizes the need to be involved in giving back to the community.