As Allison Jasper splashed Summer Day yellow paint on the stucco exterior of a Riviera Beach home, she thought of the joy on the elderly owner’s face when she saw the crew that arrived to help spruce it up.
In the span of a few hours, volunteers from PBA and the Jewish Federation of Palm Beach County worked side-by-side to put a fresh coat of paint on the house and trim. Together, the organizations recruited roughly 700 volunteers who devoted their time to 18 projects for Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service.
Other volunteers gleaned for vegetables for families and individuals in need, helped the sexton clean tombstones in one of West Palm Beach’s oldest cemeteries, beautified the De George Boys and Girls Club and maintained an urban community garden.
PBA bills the holiday as a “day on” to extend helping hands in the community, rather than a day off from classes or work. For roommates Libby Drost and Lilah Castle, it presented the perfect opportunity to serve.
“I like the day on, not just a day off. That’s a cool concept. We were both really excited to get our hands messy,” said Castle, an early elementary education major who volunteered with Paint Your Heart Out at the house in Riviera Beach. “It’s such a team-building event.”
“We both really like to paint,” added Drost, a music education major. “We thought it would be fun — a good workout, too.”
Linda Moreno, the Solid Waste Authority volunteer coordinator and a board member for Paint Your Heart Out, explained the non-profit organization’s mission to lend a hand to elderly people, people with disabilities, single mothers with young children and veterans who can’t afford to maintain their homes.
The house was a bright yellow, trimmed with “Sugar Crumb” brown. All of the paint was recycled from donations. The color palette was fitting to Brooke Starnes, a freshman majoring in dance from Memphis, Tennessee. Starnes worked with Jasper on the trickier areas at the front of the house.
“It’s a good, happy color,” Starnes said. “It’s vibrant, but not too vibrant.”
Kiara Brinkley, a freshman exercise science major from Columbus, Ohio, agreed.
“It’s different from Ohio,” Brinkley said. “Our colors aren’t really this vibrant.”
Brinkley and her friends bantered as they painted the side of the house, one perched on a ladder to reach the trim.
Kaci Hargrove said she preferred painting to other volunteer work.
“This was a lot more hands-on and exciting,” said Hargrove, a freshman studying finance who is also, coincidentally, from Columbus, Ohio.
The day began with worship in the Greene Complex for Sports and Recreation and ended with a ceremony and picnic at Currie Park. Rev. Kevin Jones ’07, assistant pastor of Tabernacle Church, was among the speakers at the closing ceremony. The Jewish Federation of Palm Beach County presented awards to two community members who promote tolerance, social justice and the Jewish values of chesed (kindness) and tikkun olam (repair the world).
Photo 1: Brooke Starnes, a freshman studying dance, paints the home of an elderly woman in Riviera Beach as part of MLK Day of Service on January 20, 2020.
Photo 2: Students prepare for MLK Day of Service with a time of worship in the Greene Complex for Sports and Recreation on January 20, 2020.
Photo 3: Kiara Brinkley paints the side of a home in Riviera Beach as part of MLK Day of Service on January 20, 2020.