A Palm Beach Atlantic University student paints a child's face at Stonybrook Apartments in Riviera Beach on Saturday.
At Community of Hope in Loxahatchee, Palm Beach Atlantic University students make preparations for the church's Back to Bethlehem event, which will take place in December.
Palm Beach Atlantic University students paint a home in suburban Lake Worth on Saturday using recycled paint donated by the Solid Waste Authority.
With a practiced hand, Mareena Chase applied off-white paint to the stucco exterior trim on a home in suburban Lake Worth on Saturday.
“I like painting, and we’re doing this for the Lord,” said the freshman graphic design major at Palm Beach Atlantic University. “It’s a good way to meet people too.”
Chase, a New Hampshire native who attended high school in Fort Myers, was one of 34 PBA students who spent part of the Saturday before this week’s start of classes painting the home of 68-year-old Odelia Pierre-Louis. The group, along with six community volunteers, used recycled paint donated by the Solid Waste Authority.
The students, most of them freshmen and transfers, were part of a larger group of nearly 400 PBA students who painted homes, worked on landscaping, removed trash, assisted with construction projects and organized children’s activities at 10 locations across Palm Beach County.
The University’s tradition of starting the academic year with service is coordinated through Workship, a distinctive community service program that has been at the heart of PBA since its founding in 1968.
“I am so excited for these new students to step into this long-standing tradition at PBA of recognizing needs in the community and meeting them with Christ-like action,” said Director of Workship Kate Magro.
For Pierre-Louis, a mother of three and grandmother of four who struggles with health problems, the students who came to paint her home were a welcome sight. She qualified for assistance with painting through the county’s Paint Your Heart Out program.
“We appreciate it. We’re blessed they came out and did this work,” she said, as volunteers painted her home a shade of tan called Stoney Creek and coated the trim with off-white paint.
In addition to the painting project, students worked at the Palm Beach Zoo, South Florida Science Center, Dreher Park (in cooperation with the City of West Palm Beach), Rosemary Village (in cooperation with Tabernacle Missionary Baptist Church), Bow Down Ministries and Resource Depot, all in West Palm Beach; Community of Hope Church in Loxahatchee; Habitat for Humanity in Lake Worth; and Stonybrook Apartments in Riviera Beach.
At Stonybrook Apartments, PBA students hosted a block party and barbecue in partnership with Shoreline Church, which operates an outreach ministry in the neighborhood.
Shoreline member Chelsea Shoff, who graduated from PBA in 2011 with a degree in psychology and a minor in cross-cultural studies, has organized the weekly outreach with neighborhood youth. Volunteers share a message and also help with arts and crafts, sports and other activities, she said.
“Seeing the transformation has been unbelievable,” said Shoff, who said the church hopes to grow its tutoring program in the area.
Shoff said the church welcomed PBA’s involvement in the block party, which attracted dozens of children for face-painting, crafts, games and a bounce house.
Among the PBA volunteers helping with the block party were freshmen Mason West from Atlanta, Georgia, and Caleb Thomas from Montgomery, Alabama.
“I enjoy kids,” West said. “I think it’s fun to come out and play with them.”
Added Thomas, “I just like helping people and making their day better.”