On Saturday, February 4th, 45 enthusiastic representatives from some of the South Bay's finest community-minded organizations gathered for Sharefest's Annual Workday Kick-off Meeting. The gathering was a great opportunity to come together with organizations who are considering serving as "adopting organizations” for our upcoming 9th Annual Workday on April 28th. Some of the many highlights from our time together were the stories shared from the perspectives of both recipients and adopting organizations. For example, Steve Park shared on behalf of Lighthouse Community Church, a long-time partner of Sharefest, regarding his regular role as a project manager. He shared specifically about the relationship that their church has built with Torrance High School. During their time renting weekend meeting space from THS, Lighthouse made it a priority to give back via the annual Workday. As a result, a wonderful community alliance was formed and Lighthouse caught the Sharefest vision of community development and creative collaboration. One other side note as it pertains to creative collaboration: Lighthouse Church now partners with another local church on the Workday, serving the community side-by-side.
Diane Schweitzer, who heads up Healthy Start on the Gardena High School campus, was an active part of our 2011 signature project at Gardena High. During our meeting, she shared her perspective on last year’s Workday, which brought out hundreds of volunteers just four months after a tragic on-campus shooting. She shared how the Workday had an undeniable, lasting impact in the Gardena High students' sense of ownership of their own campus. She commented on the clear and palpable sense of pride these teenagers have for their school, something that was noticeably missing in their hearts and minds prior to the campus beautification project.
Next, we heard from Holmes Avenue Elementary Principal Tony Amparan, as well as his 2011 Holmes Project Manager, Debi Raasch. They shared how a year ago Principal Amparan had a dream of building a state-of-the-art computer lab for his school. Amazingly Amparan's dream became reality through the hard work and leadership of Greg and Debi Raasch, who oversaw the lab's creation on the Workday. Principal Amparan shared how the "heartbeat" of Holmes Avenue Elementary has changed. At one point this school was the second lowest performing school in the state of California, but under the guidance and dedicated leadership of the current faculty and staff, test scores are on the rise. In his words,
"I thought the computer lab was my dream, but my dream was to have Sharefest at my school. Sharefest has changed our values and belief system. We, the administrators, staff and teachers, no longer look at obstacles, but look to find ways to work as a community. And it has given students the belief that they can achieve and succeed in the same way."
Beyond this, Debi’s relationship with the school has deepened, as she is on campus, serving as a tutor each week, and they are already in the planning stages for a follow-up project on April 28th. The dreams for this year seem mountainous, but we have seen the impossible become reality. Stay tuned, as that project comes together!
As you can see, we are as excited as ever for the amazing things in store for this year's Workday. For those who attended the kickoff meeting, we cannot thank you enough for carving time out of your schedules to come together and begin planning another great Workday. Our vision to bring about lasting positive change is fully dependent on the hard work and dedication of our community partners. If you are interested in being part of the upcoming Workday, please visit our website by clicking on one of the buttons below.