In early April, four individuals who live in the Supported Living Residential Program decided to participate in the 19th annual Clean Up Columbia city-wide event. They were among 1,324 individuals in Columbia who volunteered their time and energy to help clean up—logging more than 2,500 total hours of service and picking up 1,682 bags of trash.
Jami, Sheilah, Tony and Mike were all eager to pitch in and do their part to help keep Columbia beautiful. They were assigned to work at Auburn Hills Park in north Columbia. “I enjoyed cleaning up the trash,” says Mike. “People should clean up after themselves, but I had a good time.” The four of them, plus Chad Mitchell, Teacher Counselor at Team 108, collected three full bags of trash at this small park. “Everyone had a good time and enjoyed doing their part,” says Chad. “They decided to participate as a way of giving back to the community from which they regularly receive so much support.”
As part of his duties as a teacher counselor, Chad supports individuals in participating in educational and volunteer opportunities of their choice. In January, participants went to the Martin Luther King Jr. memorial on Martin Luther King Jr. Day and learned about Dr. King and held a discussion about the Civil Rights Movement. On another volunteer opportunity, individuals helped with Pay It Forward of Columbia and tied scarves and stocking caps to trees for Columbia’s homeless. They also handed out clothing items in some of the lower income housing areas.
“Jami, Sheilah, Tony, and Michael enjoy any opportunity that presents itself to give back to the community and help make a difference in people’s lives,” says Site Supervisor, Kim Cearlock. “I believe they understand the significance of bettering the world around them by volunteering their time by the smiles they see on the faces of those they are assisting. In this instance, they were cleaning up a park, but I think they still felt good and understood the role they played in making Columbia a clean and gorgeous place for people to live.”