At PossAbilities, we use the acronym “EPIC”. Engaged, Person-centered, and In Community. Throughout the past couple of weeks we’ve had several activities and outings that fit at least part of that acronym. But maybe none more than the work our STARS participants have done at Oxbow Park.
In late June, parts of southeast Minnesota were hit hard with heavy downpours, some totaling more than seven inches of rain in small window of time. With the rain came rising waters, damaged landscapes, and left a lot of people cleaning up. The damage was so severe, it left Oxbow Park and Zollman Zoo having to close to the public for a brief period.
One week later, more rain. More damage. More to clean up. This time, Oxbow Park and Zollman Zoo sought the public’s help. They asked for volunteers to help clean up debris and complete other tasks to get things back to normal. That’s where our participants answered the call.
On Tuesday, July 9th, a group of participants from our STARS program spent the day picking up sticks and other debris that had painted the once clean and tidy park land.
“It looked like a tornado went through there,” recalls Brian, one of our STARS participants who helped clean up.
“Our participants are some of the most generous and caring people I know, they all jumped at the chance to help out at Oxbow,” said Aly Judd, PossAbilities STARS Service Coordinator. “They all told me how wonderful it felt to help their community and to keep Oxbow clean, because it’s one of our favorite places.”
But our participants weren’t done there. Less than a week later, a group of three participants was back hard at work, this time cleaning up a picnic area; spraying off tables, pulling out debris that had been lodged in the table tops, cleaning the shelter floor, and other related tasks.
Brian was once again part of the group who volunteered their time. “We cleaned dirt off the tables. The tables were dirty.”
Brian, along with a couple of his friends from STARS, spent time pulling dirt from between the cracks of picnic tables and sprayed surfaces with a hose. “I [was like] the best Ghostbuster,” Brian said, while showing the motion of spraying off the tables. “And it was just like Brian the fireman putting out a fire.”
“There was never a doubt in my head that our participants are very caring and empathetic people,” Judd added. “But seeing them give back so selflessly was heart-warming and inspiring.”
When all was said and done, our participants put in roughly 15-20 hours of volunteer work combined at Oxbow Park. It’s just one of many examples of how our participants contribute to our community.