Let's get this out of the way fast: Hands On Day is the Richmond Folk Festival of community engagement.
The event, which matches hundreds of volunteers to dozens of community projects for a half day engagement, put the wraps on its second annual day of service today. And somewhere around 1,000 people are sleeping a little harder tonight. That's twice as many as last year, which makes 2010 an exciting opportunity to double up.
(Unless they immediately went home and took naps, like I did.)
It's almost embarrassing that my team was indoors all day, particularly when I look at photos from some of the project teams who spent the day working on houses, outdoor murals, park maintenance. It was cold, misty and wet outside today. Miserable might be an operative word.
The weather might have stopped my team -- which was set to paint murals on the asphalt playgrounds of Linwood Holton Elementary School (the puddle-strewn asphalt playgrounds) -- but Holton's assistant principal had other plans in mind for us.
Members of the Asian-American Society of Central Virginia and members of various Leadership Metro Richmond classes (above) were on hand to tackle whatever projects the school needed completed. The 15 volunteers at Holton jumped into action soon after everyone arrived -- painting sound-absorbing panels in the cafeteria, recording books onto tapes for students, cutting out several thousand letters and images out of construction paper for the teachers to use for bulletin boards. (Believe me when I say that the teachers will be most appreciative of the construction paper letters and images!)
Richmond Fire Chief Robert Creasy (above) and I were tagged as the project captains for the day, but I think we all agree that Eric from the Asian-American Society was the star of the show. He not only enlisted most of the volunteers on our project, but he went on a paint run when we ran short of supplies -- and returned to help us muscle through the final painting sprint.
Early in the afternoon, I went on a second paint run to the nearby Lowe's and (on a whim) swung by Pizza Hut to pick up lunch for the team. The four large pizzas were gone before we could even blink.
How great are the people who volunteered at Holton? Most of the team agreed to return when the sun came back out to tackle the outdoor painting and landscaping work that was deferred by the cruddy weather.
Did I mention that more than 1,000 volunteers turned out to tackle 40+ projects? John Murden at Church Hill People's News has the skinny on where to turn for more coverage:
More than 1,000 volunteers signed up for 40 service projects that all took place today as part of HandsOn Greater Richmond 2009, including projects at Armstrong High School and Bellevue Elementary. RVA Tweets has a running commentary from the day. The HandsOn Youtube page will be collecting video from the day and the HandsOn Flickr page will have photos from the day (and the local events ought to show up in the Church Hill Flickr pool, too).