Focusing on service, not recognition

MONROE — On the wettest Sunday of the month, hundreds of Monroe and Sultan residents left the warmth and comfort of their churches to brave the elements in an act of service that showed actions truly speak louder than words.

“There are four churches represented here today at ServeFest, and all of them wanted to do this anonymously,” said ServeFest organizer Julie Morris. “This is about modeling service to the community.”

Morris, the executive director for the Sky Valley Food Bank stood in pouring rain with Neil Watkins, director of the Monroe Chamber of Commerce, talking on cell phones and dispatching more than 1,000 volunteers to 50 different work projects in Monroe and Sultan.

“For the first year this is a great start,” said Watkins. “The weather just punctuates the dedication of these people. The numbers haven’t fallen off at all.”

Projects ranged from folding fliers for the Monroe School District, to restocking and sprucing up the food bank, getting rid of graffiti and cleaning up city parks.

ServeFest volunteers descended en masse, raking, scrubbing and painting, to give the fairgrounds a face-lift before the week’s opening of Evergreen State Fair.

The idea of ServeFest sprang up during a local pastoral meeting. One of the pastors shared an idea he had discovered at a church conference that focused on community service. The idea instantly resonated with the rest of the group.

Soon, preparations for ServeFest were being made with one important caveat: that this would be about service and not about recognition.

“It’s awesome,” said Ron Patrick, Monroe’s park operations supervisor. “A lot of great things are happening. It would take a week to a season for us to complete some of these tasks that are happening today.”

For Joy Koontz of Monroe, the day of service is more than a church outing; it’s a family affair.

“Today is a day we shut down the church and come serve the community,” said Koontz. “We want to show the love of Christ.”

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