Whether it is a run-down, rambling house in need of a facelift or a school desperate for a fresh coat of paint, the bright yellow t-shirts make it easy to spot the folks volunteering to transform a city—block by block.
These volunteers, armed with paint brushes and a good attitude, fan out to different parts of the city of Compton to help in what is called the “Compton Initiative”—a multi-year plan to reinvigorate a city that has been deeply impacted by poverty, lack of resources and violence. And the next one is coming on Saturday, July 20.
The Compton Initiative, founded by Ken Korver, lead pastor of Emmanuel Church in Paramount, is a service project that recruits scores of volunteers to spend a day improving and beautifying the community. Whether it is by painting houses, cleaning up parks, pulling weeds and planting new landscape, these volunteers rise at 7 a.m. and work until sunset giving back. Now in its eighth year, 550 sites have been spruced up under the Compton Initiative, which is now in its eighth year. They include schools, churches, murals and public spaces. The volunteers fan out only four times a year and each time they use more than 700 gallons of paint and more than 2,000 paint brushes.
“It’s a blessing for us to see we are making an impact in people’s lives,” said Korver. “They feel loved and cared for. It is fun interacting with the people you work with.”
The initiative began in 2005, when a church in Paramount had a vision of seeing healing come to its neighboring city of Compton. But soon there was an outpouring from people who live and work in Compton and wanted to see change. The mayor, city council, local businesses, civic and religious organizations have partnered together to form one united-yellow-shirted force for change in Compton.
The volunteers themselves are filled with joy when they give back.
Myra Petgrave, 32, from San Pedro recalled how inspiring it was to paint Long Fellow Elementary earlier this year with her 4-year-old son, Neeko and 6-year-old daughter Robin.
“When we arrived, the school was coffee brown. But over the course of the day the school transformed to a bright yellow, inspiring place that I think will help kids go to school,” said Petgrave. “I remember seeing hundreds of volunteers of all ages and races with paintbrushes. There were lots of people covered in paint who had lots of fun getting dirty. I left the school knowing that I made a difference.”
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