PDT Staff Writer
Craig Gilliland, Scioto County Health Coalition Community Initiatives Subcommittee Chairman, says the “Reclaim 2013” project should be a springboard for a new attitude toward community service.
“We’re just trying to create an annual event where we can try to improve the appearance of our community,” Gilliland said. “Ultimately I’m hoping that our community service projects are taken to the next level of even helping people paint houses, sidewalk repair, landscaping or yard work.”
Gilliland finds such projects a perfect fit for church youth groups who go on spring break and usually travel to some distant place to help in that community. He wants to possibly turn the focus of those groups to needs in the local area.
“We’re looking at even trying to create that type of atmosphere here in Portsmouth, so you don’t have to raise a bunch of money and go away to have a meaningful experience, that you could accomplish something like that here and improve our own community,” Gilliland said. “That’s what triggered it, trying to have that kind of experience.”
Gilliland said some organizations overlook one of the largest segments of service in the community, the local churches.
“I know several members of different churches that go to Honduras, New Orleans and Jersey Shore or wherever,” Gilliland said.
Gilliland says he even sees that attitude permeating events such as Business After Hours.
“Instead of just standing around talking, networking, lets stand around and talk and pick up trash. Let’s help paint, or do a project by the business community,” Gilliland said. “That’s something that at the end of your two hours you look back on and you can see not only talking to people and making the relationship connection, but also there’s some fruits of the work.”
He said one of the components of the plan would be to get local businesses to do things like adopt a park, taking some of the pressure off of the city.
“We live here. Our kids are here. We want the community to be usable and look better that what it currently does,” Gilliland said. “So we’re just trying to get folks excited about that, and with the ‘Reclaim 2013’ project we’re hoping that it will not only be a one time during the year, but throughout the year. People can pick projects and help create an application for the city that they’re passing out to different residents who live within the city, but to also get them in the hands of organizations like CAO (Community Action Organization) for people in the county. Because they (CAO) do a lot of work like helping people needing assistance in the county that they can fill out this application form if they have a need; maybe they need something like their house painted, something a church group can come in and do rather quickly.”
He said his hope is to have on the Health Coalition’s website a list of projects for organizations to volunteer to perform. Then to have the various organizations keep a count of how many man-hours so that the work could be tracked.
Frank Lewis may be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 252, or at firstname.lastname@example.org