An army of more than 1,650 Do Something World volunteers marched on the city of San Diego Saturday, April 10, with a mission to help beautify the city. Participants in Do Something World shirts weeded, raked, trimmed trees, painted, repaired equipment, and collected trash and recyclables at three venuesBalboa Park, Encanto and Jackie Robinson YMCA/Chollas Creek. Here are stories from Balboa Park. (See separate stories about the YMCA and Encanto!)
Balboa Park in the heart of San Diego is renowned for 1,200 acres of gardens, landscaping and cultural attractions. As a city park, though, it has seen more than its share of neglect due to necessary budget cuts. The Rock Church stepped up to help.
"You Have Saved the Starlight!"
At the Starlight Musical Theatre in Balboa Park, volunteers removed 4,000-plus seats, painted their metal frames, reinstalled them, painted bathrooms and dressings rooms, and generally cleaned up the San Diego landmark. Founded in 1945, the Starlight Bowl (as locals call it) is one of the oldest continuously used musical theatres in the United States.
Danielle Forsgren, director of New Projects for the Starlight Theatre, was overwhelmed. "This is a miracle! We would never have been able to pull this off on our own."
"This is a miracle. We would never have been able to pull this off on our own." -- Danielle Forsgren, the Starlight Theatre
Sandra Uribe, who works in media outreach for the Starlight Theatre, also expressed appreciation towards the Rock Church. "Seeing all these people working here and doing what we never would have been able to do, is overwhelming!" said Sandra. "We are so grateful! Thank you!"
Board member Steve Romande and board president Kimberly Layton also were moved by the volunteers' dedication.
"You have saved the Starlight," said Kimberly. "People like to talk about making a difference. The Rock has made a huge difference that this community will experience for years to come."
Volunteers of All Ages
Eugene Fung, 27, a software engineer, who has attend the Rock for six or seven years but has never volunteered before, was tearing out bleachers next to a boy who was unbolting a seat. "I'm not his dad, but I'm working with him in this section," he said, grinning. "It's been great!"
Danny Chean, 9, was a very focused worker. He had come with his sisters Kim and Berlyna, ages 17 and 12, who said their father recruit them, and they recruited two of their neighbors: another brother-sister team George and Priscilla, ages 11 and 13.
Scott, Alana and Kass Sorensen, were scraping and picking up bolts. "He's a bit tired, he's been helping pick up bolts since the morning!" mother Alana said of toddler Kass. They were enthusiastic about lending a hand to the Starlight. A minute later Kass lay his head on the ground to rest.
Tony and Ruby Archiga, have been attending the Rock for two years. "We gave our lives to the Lord years back but strayed away," said Ruby. "Then in 2004, our seven-month-old son passed away. It was heartwrenching, but we knew that it was God using this to bring us back to Him. I found out about the church and told Tony about it. We both came again and he fell in love with it as well. We've been here ever since. So in a way, it's because of our son Adrian that we are here."
It helps to keep busy, they said. "Also keeping busy keeps our mind focused on the right things. If we are idle, we start thinking and thinking about our loss and that doesn't help. We support each other and want to help other families who have lost a child."
Laurel Street Bridge Crews
"It would be cool if people could do this all the time."--Robert Lopez
Dedicated volunteers repainted a portion of San Diego's famous Laurel Street Bridge over Interstate 163 in Balboa Park. San Diego city workers helped tremendously by taping off one side of the bridge while volunteers worked on the opposite side. They also made several pass-bys to pick up trash.Nico Negrette said she had read Pastor Miles' Do Something! book during vacation, and felt "compelled" to help out. Robert Lopez said "it would be cool if people could do this all the time."
Roy Sauquillo had volunteered for two other Rock community events. "I can't donate money, but I can give my time." He likes bringing his daughter with him to teach her the value of giving. Alexa Sauquillo, 13, said she liked helping the community and "getting messy and not caring."
Jeff Harp, of Escondido, came with friends. "It's nice to focus on something else, other than me," he said. He has been attending the Rock since August and said that the messages from the pulpit "remind him of how we all should behave."
Down Florida Canyon
Doreen Rekoski dreaded going, because of bad knees. She was supposed to hook up with her small group in Florida Canyon but was running late. She was on her own, but not for long.
"Society often takes such negative views of large churches. By so many people volunteering and doing such wonderful things, the community is able to benefit and we can turn nonbelievers in the right direction. It's a win-win situation in my mind." -- Corie
She met Corie Williams, who arrived about the same time, also by herself. "God in his infinite wisdom paired me up with a sweet, compassionate young woman who took it upon herself to take care of me. Such is the wonder of a loving God . . . to take you to places you would not dream and enable you to do things you would not ordinarily do," said Doreen, who works for the government in public affairs, and volunteers for the Rock Church Writers Ministry.
Florida Canyon is in an east sector of Balboa Park, a steep ravine overrun with sage-scrub and chaparral.
Doreen, whose husband was retired Navy, and Corie, a former Army soldier now married to a sailor, became a team, with Doreen spotting trash and Corie going after it. They remember coming across an abandoned homeless encampment that appeared to have been occupied by a woman.
"When I was in the Army I slept in trenches and open fields, but that's because I signed up to do that," Corie said. "Being here and seeing all this makes me appreciate all the things I am blessed with."
Corie felt compelled to come out and help. "Society often takes such negative views of large churches. By so many people volunteering and doing such wonderful things, the community is able to benefit and we can turn nonbelievers in the right direction. It's a win-win situation in my mind," said Corie.
Other Balboa Sites
In Gold Gulch, a shady tree-lined ravine, near the Japanese Friendship Garden, volunteers planted, weeded and spread mulch.
At Inspiration Point, east of Park Boulevard across from Presidents Way near Naval hospital, volunteers planted ground cover, weeded, picked up trash, and spread mulch.
Across Florida Canyon at Morley Field, workers planted trees, plus weeded and spread mulch.
Bridget Randall, Doreen Rekoski and Jonathan Valverde reported these stories. They are volunteers with the Rock Church Writers Ministry. For more info, visit www.sdrock.com/ministries/writers/.