WilmerHale at The Cooper Community Center (Boston, MA) 2019
It’s my second day on the job, and I’m standing in Home Depot with fellow Team Care Force (TCF) members Johanny and Mas as well as Senior Operations Manager James Simmons wondering what nominal sizing means and hoping that I can break in my Timberland boots soon. My first event is coming up, and my team and I have work to do to prepare the Cooper Community Center for volunteers. The Center has requested several projects, including placing a walkway to connect the front sidewalk and the playground, and laying down a paver stone border along the garden area at the front of the building. Of course, we can’t prep without materials, which is why we are standing in the lumber section of Home Depot looking for the lumber needed to build benches during the event. All our projects are outdoors, and there are a lot of landscaping projects, which means after picking through the lumber, we are off to the garden section to look at plants and mulch before heading back to the service site.
“We’re going to get our benches ready for Friday,” James Simmons, our event manager, announced. I remember looking at the chop saw that was sitting on the nearby table and hoping that I wouldn’t have to cut any lumber myself. All I could think of was the hard skills training day that the D.C. Civic Engagement team had hosted during my first year of service. There were several other corps members participating in the training that day, so my experience was just long enough to discourage further use with a saw. Needless to say, I wasn’t that excited about using it again. However, before we could cut, we needed to measure the lumber, mark the different lengths, and use a carpenter’s square to make straight lines. We finished too quickly for my taste, because I knew that next, we would have to cut. James gave us a safety training and showed us all the different parts of the saw, explaining each one thoroughly. Knowing a little more about the tool alleviated some of my nerves, however, it wasn’t enough for me to volunteer to cut first. Soon enough though it was my turn. I was awkward at first, and I was probably the slowest person cutting, oftentimes quadruple checking to make sure I was cutting on the proper side of the line (it’s the side with the “X” on it). As I cut more pieces, I felt my confidence grow, and when it was time for me to swap out, I found I didn’t want to. To this day, using the chop saw is one of my favorite prep tasks. I guess you could say I came, I saw, I conquered (my fear).
After we finished cutting, we assembled the lumber pieces into kits that the volunteers would assemble on event day. We had one major remaining prep task; installing a paver stone path between the front sidewalk and the gate leading to the playground. The goal was to have the paver stones flush with the existing sidewalk, so we had to dig down 3 inches of dirt and level the area in order to meet that goal. It was hard work, and the hot weather didn’t help, but between the three of us, we got the area ready for the volunteers.
WilmerHale Service Event Checklist:
✔ Service location prepped and ready for work
✔ Hardworking volunteers ready for a powerful day of service
✔ ✔ 98°F temperature with a heat warning for the weekend
Serving at the Cooper Community Center with the WilmerHale volunteers is one of my most memorable service events. This was the first event I’d seen with Physical Training (PT), and it would be the first group of volunteers I would lead this year. My volunteers accomplished a lot that day: relocated two shrubs from the front garden bed to the back of the building, deconstructed two flower beds and redistributed the plants and soil to other locations on the grounds, put down a stone border around a garden bed in front of the building, and laid down a paver stone pathway connecting the sidewalk to the playground.
The first and last tasks were strenuous, especially with the heat that day. The two volunteers who transferred the shrubs were covered in dirt by the time they were finished, but their enthusiasm and pride at completing their task was invigorating. The volunteers that laid down the paver stones had to troubleshoot how to get the stones to lay flat and even; it was a trial and error process, but they completed their task. The whole group was energetic and hardworking during their time with us. When our time together was over, I was amazed at how much they had accomplished in the relatively short time. For every event I worked on after that, I kept that same enthusiasm for service that my first team of volunteers had. They gave us a powerful day of service, and that has encouraged me to make my year of service just as meaningful.
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