Church group spiffs up Mill Park school playground

Discover why a downtown church spent days fixing up one David Douglas School District elementary school’s swings and monkey bars …

Chris Morgan, Agape Church of Christ volunteer, touches up paint on play equipment at Mill Park Elementary School.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
Toiling away during the July heat-wave, groups of volunteers armed with wrenches, screwdrivers, and paint brushes descended on the Mill Park Elementary School playground.

“Our playground really needed some love,” agreed Mill Park Elementary Parent Volunteer Leslie Catabay. “New equipment is very expensive. We decided what we could do is to replace and tighten some nuts and bolts, and repaint the play equipment.”

During their final day of service, on the afternoon of July 11, Catabay introduced Agape Church of Christ Community Minister Brett Worsham.

Mill Park Elementary Parent Volunteer Leslie Catabay of Agape Church of Christ Community, and its Minister Brett Worsham, check over the fixing and painting that the volunteers did, on this play equipment.

“Several years ago, we began the ‘Agape Blitz’,” said Worsham. “It started out as one day in service, and now it’s been extended to six weeks. In addition to our church members, youth groups – from across the country – also come to Portland to help out.”

Even though the church is located in the Metropolitan Learning Center in northwest Portland, “I actually lived in this neighborhood, so it makes this project close to my heart,” Worsham told East Portland News.

“I’ve been trying to find a project that we could do here in the David Douglas School District for quite a while. This year, I decided on Mill Park Elementary, and asked if they could use some help.

“They replied, ‘It’s funny you should ask that! We’ve just been talking about how we could do this project spiffing up our play equipment’,” Worsham continued.

Students from Church of Christ campuses across the nation participate in this summer’s “Agape Blitz”.

So, the Mill Park Elementary Parent Teacher Connection Group paid for the supplies, Catabay said, and a total of as many as 40 Agape Church of Christ and Eastside Church of Christ at Columbia Christian School volunteers, and students who pitched in, worked most of four days – donating a total of about 1,000 hours to the project.

“Chris Conklin from IQ Construction & Remodeling figured out what products were needed, and then purchased them on behalf of the group,” recounted Catabay. “And, Chris and his wife and myself have guided this project from a mere idea, into full and complete fruition.”

Agape Church Church of Christ member Cathy Millis touches up paint.

Asked why a church group would spend time and resources on a project for a secular school, Worsham said, “It helps us further the mission of our church, demonstrating the term ‘love exemplified’.

“Jesus Christ calls us to love, and to love people in general; this is a good opportunity to put this in action,” explained Worsham. “This is especially true in outer East Portland – an area that could really use a little extra love. It’s one thing to say ‘we love people’, it’s another to take action, and actually do something positive in the community.”

These students fix and paint play equipment, doing it for children they’ll never see using it.

Although they won’t likely know who or why their playground equipment was “magically” transformed over the summer, In September, many Mill Park kids are sure to be delighted by the results of the care shown for their school.

© 2014 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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