HOT SHOTS: Riva Trace Parishioners Clean Up Nicely for Others
On Saturday, scores of volunteers were working at sites in and around Edgewater and Shady Side. It is party of “City Serve” an annual event where Riva Trace Baptist Church parishioners get out into the community to serve their neighbors through service projects.
Pat Domeier was one such volunteer. He was working at the ball fields in Shady Side. Their job was to fix up the concession stand and bathrooms and an equipment shed. Domeier was the lead at the site, so he had about a dozen volunteers to work with. They were all around the building, some up on ladders, some in the bathroom, others working to free two old commodes that were due for replacement. They were painting the bathrooms the bright blue and yellow selected to match the South County Youth Association Storm team uniforms. “We were handed a pair of shorts and told, ‘match this,’” Domeini said.
He said that service is part of the mission of Riva Trace.
“Jesus was not stuck in the church or synagogue. He was out meeting peoples’ needs. And here in Shady Side, we saw there was a need and we came out.”
In all, the City Serve campaign visited 18 sites. Some were churches, like Woodland Beach Community Church in Edgewater, while others were private homes and community properties.
In Columbia Beach, also in Shady Side, waterfront homes and cottages run the gamut from recently constructed to some in need of a little TLC. Columbia Beach was one of the worst-hit locations in Maryland when Hurricane Isabel came ashore in September of 2003.
Frank Hill’s home was one that suffered a lot of damage. He lives in the second row of bayfront homes along Al Jones Drive. He said that after Isabel hit, he only got out by boat.
He has lived in Columbia Beach, a gated community, since 1967.
He said that his neighbor, Sheila Clinton, approached and asked if she could recommend his yard for her church’s annual cleanup.
“She asked me if I would mind, of course I wouldn’t mind getting some help around here,” Hill said. “They are truly God sent.”
He said that after Isabel, there was just so much stuff to do and clean up. He tried to keep up, but he couldn’t.
For example, Clinton said that Hill’s nephew dropped off some firewood for the wood stove. The huge logs weren’t split, so they just sat in the front yard, too big to move, too difficult to split by hand. During Isabel, the front walk was buried and needed to be dug out and edged. There were tall shrubs needed to be trimmed.
An insurance policy that Hill had paid on for the better part of four decades wouldn’t pay for any of the damage to his property because he didn’t have a flood policy.
“They wouldn’t cover any of it,” he said. “Of course it was from the water. The wind brought the water ashore. I was covered for a typhoon, but they said that this was a flood.”
“If it hadn’t been for my neighbor,” he paused. “There is now a joy in me that I can not express. God pulled a big one. A big blessing.”
It wasn’t long before one of the Riva Trace volunteers needed an answer about something and Hill went to make a decision.
Hill said that all the projects were being done with his consent. He said the church people talked to him before they came out. They needed to know what they could accomplish and what kinds of tools they might need.
The Riva Trace volunteers brought in two log splitters, and young people came out to help with the heavy lifting.
Over at the woodpile, Ben Spooner, 14, and a couple of pals were stacking wood. He said he came to help Mr. Hill because he likes helping people.
“And ironically, I like manual labor,” Spooner said.
By the end of the day, all of the wood that was out front was split and stacked, plus the bark and debris from splitting was bagged and ready to be taken away.
A few blocks over in Columbia Beach, the Bayside Chapel was also getting a facelift. Prior to the Saturday workday, volunteers, including Columbia Beach residents not affiliated with Riva Trace, had put on a new roof.
The shed where the chairs are kept needed new siding and everything needed a new coat of paint.
Martin O’Callahan was there with Martin O’Callahan and Martin O’Callahan, ages 49, 27 and 4, respectively.
The first O’Callahan said that he was working at the site as his way of taking church into the community.
The middle O’Callahan said that serving God “gives us the ability to help others.”
The youngest O’Callahan played assistant while dad and grandpa measured and cut the boards and pieces of trim.
The old chapel has been in place since 1941. It burned down once, but was rebuilt on the same site in 1973. Parishioners meet there only in summer. Each week Charlie Wyche arranges for a visiting preacher to come. With the cleanup project, Wyche has a new connection at Riva Trace, and hopefully one of the pastors can come out and give a sermon.
The other Riva Trace volunteers there planted flowers along the edge of the concrete floor, and spread mulch. Volunteer Rich Pierson rang the old bell on the top of the building.
“Now that it is redone, we will have more people coming,” Wyche said.
It does look like a really nice spot to hear a sermon, then maybe gather with Columbia Beach neighbors for a little picnic in the open air.