Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither was East High School, but the home of the Scarlets and its surrounding neighborhood did get a lot done on Thursday, aka Rebuilding Together Day.
An army of volunteers armed with shovels, rakes and wheelbarrows, lubricated with lots of elbow grease, was all over the campus and a nearby park, making noticeable improvements that are sure to last.
The troops were a coalition of Meredith Corporation employees, DMPS students who participate in the eastside chapters of the Boys & Girls Clubs, and staff from the title sponsor. Rebuilding Together is a leading national nonprofit with more than 40 years of experience that specializes in providing safe and healthy housing for low-income families.
Rebuilding Together Greater Des Moines held its first Rebuilding Together Day in 1995. Since then, the group has revitalized over 3,000 homes and non-profit facilities utilizing over 280,000 hours of volunteer time and delivering nearly $8.9 million in market value.
Accordingly, one of the tines on the pitchfork of projects Thursday was renovations at the homes of five East families. But there were several others.
Landscaping squads were at work in a courtyard on the East campus and at nearby Stewart Square Park. Another crew reorganized the food pantry that serves the East community and the school’s sewing lab also benefited.
One of the volunteers working hard in the courtyard was Anna Flickinger, EHS Class of 2012. Besides her Meredith cap, she sported a Scarlet sweatshirt that gave her away as an alum.
“After I graduated I went to Iowa State and studied graphic design,” she said, in between rake strokes. “When I got hired at Meredith I signed up for this project before we knew where we would be assigned. So I was excited when I found out that I would get to pitch in here.”
Meanwhile, over at the park a major makeover was underway. The perimeter is getting a new landscaping look but the biggest change will be the addition of some fancy new play equipment.
Students from the Hiatt Middle School Boys & Girls Club were doing their best to whittle away at what looked like Mulch Mountain in the side street adjacent to the park. One of them, Hiatt 8th grader Eduardo Marquez, was grinning as he ferried his wheelbarrow between the mountain and the playground-in-progress…at a trot!
“I enjoy working hard,” he said. And it showed.
Just as Eduardo and company began to make a dent in the enormous pile they’d tackled, a semitrailer backed up alongside it – and dumped another one. The mulch was now a mountain range.
Eduardo smiled and dug right in.