JustServe hydrant painting project fires up a community

TRACY, California

Community volunteers painted some 1,300 fire hydrants on Saturday, Oct. 14, during a large-scale JustServe project sponsored by the city.

“Even after two baths, I’m still picking yellow paint out of Pip’s hair,” said volunteer Mary Edwards, whose 2-year-old was “accidentally sideswiped by his sister’s paintbrush.”

The Edwards were among 550 participants that included members of four local churches, a mosque, several high schools, a football team, Girl Scouts and others. Paint and supplies were furnished by the city at seven locations, and more than 1,000 hours of service were rendered.

JustServe is a Church-sponsored website — justserve.org — that connects the volunteer needs of organizations with community volunteers.

“We were a funny team,” said Edwards. “There were six of us, but my husband Matt was the only really capable adult. I’m eight months pregnant, Brother Strain [bishopric counselor] had a broken clavicle, and then we had three very eager young children. But it was a beautiful day and we got six hydrants painted before we ran out of paint.”

The project has forged new relationships and united the community. Nathaniel Lease, Manteca stake high councilor over public affairs and JustServe co-chair, recognized the Lord’s influence along the way. He relates the following exchange with Pastor Mike Pilcher of Redemption Road Ministries.

“Nathaniel, the night before you invited me and my congregation to support the hydrants project, I prayed for a way to meet people in the community and to be able to help others. Your invite was an answer to prayer.”

“Pastor Mike, you were an answer to my prayer as well,” said Brother Lease, who served alongside some of the 70 volunteers provided by the ministry.

Manteca California Stake President Douglas Maxfield said, “Of course, this wasn’t about painting fire hydrants — it was about serving shoulder-to-shoulder with our brothers and sisters in the community. Jesus Christ himself taught many times about the importance of developing relationships with others not of our faith.”

Many positive community associations were also fostered by Ron and Linda Pepperman, Manteca stake assistant public affairs directors. They spearheaded the event and developed the promotional headline, “Get Fired Up! Paint a Fire Hydrant!”

“This activity gave all members of the community an opportunity to see the impact of JustServe.org as a nucleus for community service in our city,” said Linda Pepperman. “If it brought 550 people out to paint fire hydrants, imagine the impact it could have for future projects and causes.”

Ron Pepperman added, “After one of our organizational meetings, a sponsor of several community service organizations said he was impressed by the potential power of the JustServe website to gather volunteers for the Tracy service groups he guides.”

Chester ward member Newell Hollingsworth, 82, helped paint four hydrants. “They were in pretty bad shape, but when we got done they looked really good.”

Ada Edwards, 5, who sideswiped her brother with a brush, recalled, “The best part was painting. We had to get messy to do it. I never got paint on my clothes. I got it on my ankle and on my shoe and on my hand and on my forehead.”

Ada’s sister Izzy, 7, added, “I liked using the paintbrush to make the fire hydrants yellowish. Trying to dab in the small parts was hard. It was yucky wiping the parts with spider webs and leaves.”

For more information about how to participate in JustServe, visit justserve.org.