By DON O'BRIEN Herald-Whig Staff Writer
Deb Stock couldn't help but smile Friday morning as she watched a group of AmeriCorps volunteers pull weeds from a playground behind Quanada's emergency shelter.
"We just simply don't have time to come out here and do these things," said Stock, Quanada's volunteer coordinator. "This will make such a difference just visually with how we appear to the community. It just makes a huge difference for us."
A group of 15 AmeriCorps volunteers helped spruce up the playground and worked on scraping paint off the front porch. They also lent a hand in the food pantry and did other various tasks that Quanada needed.
It was all done as part of Global Youth Service Day. The volunteers spent much of their day at Quanada.
Part of the group made their way to Payson Grade School in the afternoon to give a live interactive puppet show that stressed the importance of team work and community service.
Friday's events were coordinated by Amanda Chavez, who serves as the AmeriCorps volunteer for the Adams County Red Cross, which serves Adams, Brown, Hancock, McDonough and Pike counties. She is part of the AmeriCorps Safe Families Illinois team, which includes AmeriCorps members from Chicago, Decatur and the Quad Cities. She was part of the group pulling weeds. By 10 a.m., the group already had filled a wheelbarrow with weeds plucked from the playground.
"I'm covered in mud right now," Chavez said with a smile.
Even though she was dirty and chilly on the overcast, windy morning, Chavez was happy to be lending a hand, especially at Quanada.
"(Quanada's) mission was close to my heart," Chavez said. "The fact that it is a center for victims of abuse was something that really touched me. Because this is Global Youth Service Day, this center helps women and children, so that really tied in to the mission of the day. Knowing what they do for the victims and their families is just really touching to me."
Chavez, who is originally from the Chicago area, has worked in the Adams County Red Cross office since September. She originally came to the area to attend Quincy University and received a bachelor's degree in music. She's been happy to help the area while serving with AmeriCorps.
"I was interested in doing the Peace Corps, but I was also interested in AmeriCorps because I wanted to do something that gave back," she said. "I wanted to do something I was passionate about, so this was just a really good fit."
And the AmeriCorps' visit to Quanada was a good fit for the organization. Quanada has one full-time maintenance employee who oversees several properties. The work done by the AmeriCorps group will help.
Besides pulling weeds, the group planted several pampas ornamental grasses at the west side of the playground. The grasses should grow to be 6 to 7 feet tall, which will help serve as a sort of privacy fence for the children and clients of Quanada who will use the space.