“I’m hoping that this spreads,” said Culver City Mayor Christopher Armenta, as he looked over a sea of over 200 volunteers on Saturday morning, all dressed in yellow ‘Mormon Helping Hands’ shirts and working together to refurbish the city’s Syd Kronenthal Park. “How wonderful would that be if
we saw this spread to every community. It takes just a small batch like this to get it started.”
And indeed, it has spread. This group of volunteers, composed of members and friends of The Church
of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, was just one of many hundreds working throughout California, with an estimated 70,000 volunteers working to restore parks and recreational facilities state-wide.
The effort comes at a time of great need for the Culver City. City Councilman Andrew Weissman, also present on Saturday, explained, “The City is facing a $4 million budget shortfall for the upcoming fiscal year. Volunteerism is a crucial way to help fill gaps in service where funds are
short.” He concluded, “Anytime we get a group like yours that is willing to contribute so much time and energy, money and material, we fully appreciate it.”
Mormon Helping Hands volunteer Nate Wyne, who was there with his wife and 1-year-old son, said:
“Seeing and hearing about all the problems that our particular section of the city faces, it’s really encouraging to see what so many people can do in so short a time, and I hope this carries.” The volunteers varied greatly, but, like Wyne, all shared a similar love for community service. Kelly Hunter, mother of five, who was there working with her children, said: “Service to our family is a blast. We love helping other people. We love to work together, and then on top of that to know that you’re making somebody else happy is just a fabulous thing.”
Among other things, volunteers painted workout equipment, a bike rack, a huge wall covered in graffiti, cleaned a large sand box area, planted flowers and weeded around the parking lot. Local event organizer, Jay Zwahlen, said, “Providing community service is something that should always
be a priority in people’s lives. Syd Kronenthal Park is well-used during the year so it was great to give it a little facelift.” City Parks Service Supervisor Reuben Ventura was amazed at the day’s productivity. “You were able to do it all in a few hours. Thank you for all your help.”
LDS Stake President Robert Keeler, ecclesiastical leader of eight Mormon congregations in the Santa Monica area, was also present on Saturday and worked alongside his fellow volunteers. Keeler explained, “We are pleased to have this opportunity to serve our local community. Well-maintained
parks and recreational facilities are essential for a healthy and well-balanced society. They are a resource that we all use and we should all feel responsible for keeping them clean.” The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints participates in numerous service projects throughout Los Angeles each year, including blood drives, food bank staffing, Boy Scouts, and Emergency Preparedness fairs.
Helping Hands Volunteer Adam Sidwell, who works professionally as a visual effects artist, said, “The world has enough hurting hands. Let’s be some helping ones.” Councilman Weissman concluded: “The community certainly has a crying need for efforts such as this. (When we have) people who are as generous as Latter-day Saints are, we welcome it.”