COLUMBIA — Covered in peeling white paint, overgrown shrubs and rampant vines, the house on Highridge Drive was in need of a helping hand or two. Instead, it received 30.
More than 100 members of the Missouri United Methodist Church spent their Sunday morning working at 15 houses around the Columbia area as part of the Serve 2011 campaign to honor the 10th anniversary of 9/11.
Another National Day of Service and Remembrance event in Columbia celebrated the spirit of volunteerism.
The Heart of Missouri United Way held a volunteer fair at Columbia Mall to show community members how to get involved with volunteering in the community. More than 20 non-profits set up informative tables in the mall common area for the event.
In addition to volunteer fair, Columbia Mall honored members of the Columbia Fire Department, Columbia Police Department and Missouri Task Force One Sunday morning in the parking lot of the mall.
"We wanted to go out and recognize people who lost their lives, but also bring it home," mall general manager Rusty Strodtman said.
Representatives from these public service organizations were honored and thanked by Strodtman for the sacrifices they make to serve the community. Flags were placed in the grass to represent the servicemen who lost their lives in the 9/11 tragedy.
Volunteers worked to bring houses up to city code, clean and repair yards and build a relationship with the homeowners.
Riddled with multiple code violations, the Highridge Drive home simply needed a clean up and a fresh coat of paint.
Shouts of “Look out below!” and yelps from the occasional spider sighting echoed from the house as neighbors sat on their porch to watch. The group of teenagers and some adults worked furiously scraping old paint and digging up weeds around the property.
"There can't really be a better response to violence than service," said John Adams, as he held a large piece of rotten siding. The Columbia father brought his two sons to the event.
Many of the teenagers were too young to remember what happened on 9/11 but understood the magnitude of the event and were excited to spend their Sunday morning outside.
"I have nephews that were 7 and 8 at the time," Columbia resident Trudy McManus said. "They knew they were supposed to be scared and sad but didn't understand it. Teenagers love to do things, even though they don't remember."
In just an hour, the group cleared away most of the weeds and started painting. Utilizing each volunteer's specific skills, Trey Salmons jumped in the Dumpster to compact the weeds and debris.
"Get Trey to do it," site supervisor Walt McManus said. "He plays basketball — use his jumping skills."
Even without the homeowner present, the volunteers could sense the work would not go unappreciated.
"You don't feel like there's much you can do," volunteer Sarah Kurre said. "But everyone can do something everyday."
As the 30 volunteers worked at the Highridge home, about 20 others spent the morning getting to know Jimmy Waterbury.
Waterbury has lived in his East Forest Avenue home for 17 years.
When Joe Hires saw Waterbury’s house for the first time when he came to fix Waterbury's lawnmower, he knew he had to do something to help. The house needed a lot of clean-up work, both inside and out.
Hires has been working at the home for several weekends now, doing things from repairing a hole in the floor to helping remove two of Waterbury's six fish tanks.
When Hires heard about the Serve 2011 event, he knew Waterbury’s home would be a great site for the event.
The volunteers jumped right in when they arrived at the site, starting by removing rotting plywood from the backyard of the home.
One of the projects of the day was to remove the plywood, which was used as a path through the backyard for Waterbury, and replace it with gravel that was donated by Columbia Turf & Landscape.
“The simple fact is that we need to help each other,” volunteer Ted Pappas said. “If we can help someone who really needs your help, it doesn’t take much of your time — not just helping those around the world, but those at home.”
Waterbury was very involved with the process, telling the workers what they could and couldn’t throw away.
“I’m overjoyed,” he said.
As the group went through the yard, they collected all the scrap metal in a corner and planned to sell it to a recycling center. Any money they get from the scraps they will give back to Waterbury.
“Not often do you get to get your hands dirty for someone else,” volunteer Greg Nageli said. “It’s a great opportunity to give back to the community.”
In addition to the work outside the house, the volunteers helped to paint, vacuum and do general cleaning inside.
Carolyn Cheavens was one of the workers inside the house who helped scrub the walls.
“It’s a chance to give back and hopefully give back a little bit to the community, especially on 9/11,” Cheavens said.
Bill Cantin with the Office of Neighborhood Services, who helped find the houses, stopped by to see the work in progress. “It’s been an honor being a part of this,” Cantin said.
“It’s great to be out here with people who will give up a Sunday to do this work,” Hires said.
Hires isn’t planning on being done with the house any time soon. He has future plans to replace the flooring in the kitchen, carpet in the living area and kitchen cabinets, even add a garden to the backyard.
“It feels good helping someone that needs it,” Hires said.