As you made your way through Morgan City this week, one couldn’t help but notice all the red shirts around town.
Every year, the Washington Heights Church picks a community to serve. The church has several mission programs overseas that members participate in, but members who couldn’t afford to travel across the globe wanted to affect change in their local communities.
This desire to serve and “share God’s love” sparked the original “Serve Ogden” efforts. Last year “Serve Ogden” became “Serve Bountiful,” and this year “Serve Morgan” was born.
The Morgan City Council helped Pastor Jimi Pitts identify 24 homes in the area and service efforts were organized specific to the needs of each residence. Over 450 volunteers showed up on Monday, June 24, to begin home improvements.
One event leader Ron Snorgrass said that several volunteers took vacation time, military leave and even unpaid leave just to help out with this huge undertaking. In addition to all the church volunteers, service manpower came from Weber Basin Job Corps and the Weber State University football team.
Some of the projects taking place included painting the entire façade of older homes, refinishing roofs, cutting down trees and much needed porch work. The crew also plans to re-paint fire hydrants throughout the city.
All of this was completely free of charge to the homeowners and they couldn’t be more thrilled. “Some of these people couldn’t afford to put new roofs on their homes so we did that, plus threw in some new trim to make it feel like new,” said Snorgrass.
In addition to planned improvements, volunteers have filled needs as they saw them. As Snorgrass was leaving one of the homes on State Street, he noticed that there was a tattered flag flying atop their flagpole. Being a veteran himself, he decided that needed to be replaced as well and headed to ACE Hardware in search of a flag.
Volunteer Bill Linson was removing paint from one of the homes and said, “I just love giving back. It is good bonding time and the homeowners are so gracious, it makes it all worth it.”
To show their appreciation for the service, Morgan City Mayor Jim Egbert said the community would provide lunch for all the volunteers each day. Individuals from the Morgan Grace Fellowship Church and members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints brought in dishes for the luncheon held at Riverside Park.
Several volunteers were adamant that these church groups be thanked. Cathleen Williamson, who was volunteering at one of the homes on Commercial Street, said that they never expect the community to pitch in and feed that many volunteers, so it was a very welcome surprise. She said, “Things like this are so good for building relationships in the community. We love Jesus and we love serving people, and this just combines the two.”
Williamson also expressed her appreciation for the smaller helpers. She said, “The example that is being set for these young kids is priceless.” The work that was done by these volunteers is such a reflection how many good people are out there just waiting to help. Williamson mentioned, “If we can get this many people out on just an ordinary day, can you imagine how effective we would all be in a disaster situation?” These enthusiastic volunteers would certainly be a force to be reckoned with.
Many local merchants agreed to donate materials at cost to the effort. For liability reasons, church members do not enter the homes they help refurbish. They secure their own porta-potties and dumpsters as well as maintain their own liability insurance.
The Morgan community would like to thank Washington Heights for setting such a good example of what we should be doing in our neighborhoods on a regular basis. See a need, fill a need. Words to live by for all of us.