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Do Something World Clean-Up: YMCA
By Shawn Maree McCowan - April 12, 2010

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 venues––Balboa Park, Encanto and Jackie Robinson YMCA/Chollas Creek. Here's a story about the Y. (See separate stories about Balboa Park and Encanto!)

Letting Our Light Shine

At the Jackie Robinson YMCA, nearly 250 volunteers joined crews to paint parts of the interior of the facility, the trellises, picnic area, the Little League baseball bleachers and also repair the dugout. Outside, landscapers pruned trees, cleared away overgrown brush and cleaned out Chollas Creek, which runs alongside the location.

D.U.H. (Desperate, Underprivileged and Hungry) Recycling Ministry volunteers like Karen Moultrie were on hand to collect volunteers’ used water bottles and discarded recyclables from the creek. “There’s a gold mine over there,” she said.

"We’re created to serve, and it’s great to see us do what we’re created to do.”-- Pastor Miles McPherson

It was 5:30 AM when Do Something World YMCA project managers Myrna Harrison and Alex Hosch began to gather team leaders to encourage them for the day ahead.

“I was reading a Scripture this morning as I was praying with my husband,” said Harrison. “Matthew 5:16 says, ‘Let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.’ That’s what we want to do today.”

Councilman, YMCA Officials Appreciative

Employees and board members of the YMCA as well as City Councilman Tony Young – whose Fourth District encompasses the YMCA – expressed gratitude for the immense amount of work being accomplished.

“This shows what Christians can do, it shows that we care and we’re not just about our personal salvation; we care about service.” -- San Diego City Councilman Tony Young

“This is a wonderful community, a very rich community in spirit,” said Young. “Every Sunday the churches are filled with believers, but sometimes you got to get out of the church, get out of the walls, and just be a servant to the community. This shows what Christians can do, it shows that we care and we’re not just about our personal salvation; we care about service.”

Jessica Davis, the YMCA membership coordinator, said that much of their financial resources goes to sponsor memberships for many of its 2,200 members from more than 900 households. That number does not include those who just participate in sports or classes on an individual basis.

“We’re really, really excited about what’s going on today,” said Davis. “The little help we do get goes toward sponsorships for families. We don’t really get a lot of help in the facilities area. Of our members, over 50 percent are on financial aid or scholarships.”

Longtime YMCA board member Eugene Bailey was amazed to see so many people helping.

“We’ve never had anything like this particular event where this many people have come to assist us in making the facilities better. It’s really great,” said Bailey. “Not enough people know about this facility. We have the capacity to accommodate at least 3,000 more members. We give scholarships; we don’t turn anybody away. That’s what we’re really proud of.”

Bailey added that while an $18 million capital development is being planned, the current renovations will give the YMCA a much-needed facelift until the large-scale remodeling is done.

“It’s going to be really, really fabulous, so our kids in our community can have the same kinds of facilities and opportunities that La Jolla kids and Pt. Loma kids and Encinitas kids,” said Bailey. “And hopefully we can build character and our kids will have the opportunity to go as far as they can go and reach their fullest potential.”

Pastors on Powerful Witness

Brooke Landau, a reporter for Channel 6, was present throughout the morning, reporting on the work efforts and talking to Pastor Miles.

“I’m excited. Just think when we leave today this place is going to be a whole lot better than it was,” said Pastor Miles. “They don’t have the resources to do this and they’ll remember Jesus, day in and day out. It’s not like we’re preaching it, we’re doing it: so this is a powerful, powerful witness. We’re created to serve, and it’s great to see us do what we’re created to do.”

Pastor Zack Jones, organizer of the entire Do Something World event, added that the improvements are perfect timing for the Healthy Kids Day, which the YMCA will host for thousands of kids the upcoming Saturday.

“What I really enjoy is that Miles is so enthusiastic about us doing church outside the walls; to me that’s exactly what the gospel is all about,” said Jones. “I grew up in sports. I know how important sports are. Sports is a platform where people can change their lives, and develop a close relationship with Jesus Christ.”
Big and Little Helpers

Throughout the day, volunteers chipped in wherever they were needed. Even the very young found something they could do.

At the Little League baseball park donated by the Padres in 1997, eight-year-old Ella Jachlewski shoveled dirt for a new pitcher’s mound while her father, Tim, worked nearby. “We are here to share the love of Christ by serving others,” Tim said. “It touches my heart to see so many people getting together and doing something for God.”

“I get to paint and help out at the same time.” -- Alexis Mills, 10

Jesus Campos and 20 to 30 others were leveling the baseball field. Campos attends a church in Poway and is involved with the YMCA.

Alexis Mills, 10, helped put a new coat of blue paint on the bleachers. The best part about volunteering for her was, “I get to paint and help out at the same time.”

Fantaweyen Fantaye and daughter Lydia Zenaye, 13, “woke up early and were excited and ready to start working,” they said, as they painted bleachers.Though her long hair was pulled back, Lydia couldn’t help getting a few accidental blue streaks. “It’s fun to give back to the community,” she said. “Your arm gets a little tired after awhile, but you have fun out here and you make new friends.”

Paint-streaked and Laughing

Cyren’e Jones enjoyed the experience of “getting out to reconnect” with other church members while painting. She said she “liked the mega churches because it forces people to go out and get to know people.” She’s been attending the Rock Church for a year and was involved with Toy for Joys.

Two men were on the roof of the baseball dugouts with hammers and saws. Alex Mills, 10, came with his dad, and said he was having fun.

Five members of 1825, the Rock’s ministry to people 18 to 29 years old, ended up with more than a few “accidental” paint splatters as they worked on staining the trellis. With paint-streaked faces and clothing, they laughed, sang and joked as they worked. “We’re having a lot of fun,” said Patience Collom, 22.

Cori Parker, 23, said that the five of them came to serve together. “We just wanted to help out the community.”

“It’s a great day to be painting and serving God and helping out a community that often gets overlooked,” said Rudy Delatorre, 29. “It’s wonderful to be here helping out.”

Small Groups in Action

Small groups from the Rock Church also came out together to serve. Small group leader Johnakin Randolph came with his son, wife Stacy and two members of their small group, Thomas Johnson and Grace DeGuzman. “We started a small group and afterwards we wanted to do something with the church on a large scale, so we decided to come out,” said Randolph.

“It’s great to see Small Groups Ministry as a bridge builder to the community,” said Gary Beneventi, small groups pastor at the Rock. “They’re a tight-knit community and they’re serving each other and they’re ready to answer the call as soon as the call goes out to come out and serve.”

Chollas Creek

Work in the Chollas Creek site near the Y was a bit more strenuous. Volunteers whacked down weeds as tall as a man and cleaned out the creek bed, often used as a dumping ground. Workers fished out mattresses, debris, liquor bottles and clothing from the murky water and surrounding banks.
“There’s a lot of debris and trash that needs to be picked up and pulled up with rope,” said project manager Alex Hosch. “It’s a hazard down there.”

Ruth Martinez, Connie Salazar, Dominque Jaurregui, and Gaby Espinoza were a group of young ladies geared up with gloves, trash bags, and trash picker heading out to Chollas Creek. It was Connie’s second time around helping in a Rock-sponsored event and the rest of the girls were first-timers.

Tammy Jacobs was a little overwhelmed with the cleaning but still keeping up with the pace and happy to be there. It was Alberta Batchelor’s first time out. She had been invited by Kim Lamie and described herself as a Jehovah’s Witness. But she said she was planning to visit the Rock at 8 AM Sunday.


All told, the 1,659 volunteers accumulated a total of 10,081 total hours (planning and working). That number counts toward the 200,000 hours that Pastor Miles and Rock Church have dedicated specifically to Mayor Jerry Sanders, and the overall goal of 700,000 city-transforming, ministry service hours to the county of San Diego and the world. The estimated financial value to the city of San Diego is $178,418.

Elva Lee also reported for this story. Shawn and Elva are volunteers with the Rock Church Writers Ministry. For more info, visit