First Rick Edwards Day of Service a success with 55 projects
About 800 Marble Falls school district students and 150 volunteers completed 55 community projects during Rick Edwards Day of Service on Feb. 24. The day honored the life and legacy of Rick Edwards, a Marble Falls Independent School District trustee who died unexpectedly in May 2022.
Projects included clearing a trail at the Phoenix Center, organizing storage rooms at the Marble Falls Senior Activity Center, picking up litter at Marble Falls city parks, applying a fresh coat of paint at the Cottonwood Shores City Hall, and building a ramp for Broadway House.
“I think it’s awesome to help other people,” said Brandon Santibanez, a Marble Falls High School freshman assigned to help build a ramp at Broadway House, a Highland Lakes Crisis Network building that stores donated clothing. “People need to learn to help other people.”
Not all projects included physical labor. Three high school students worked as docents at The Falls on the Colorado Museum.
“It’s been really fun,” said MFHS senior Rebika Vasquez. “I’ve learned a lot about local history here.”
Students also unloaded a trailer full of cat litter, dusted cathouses, cleaned dog pens, and vacuumed at Living Love Animal Rescue.
“We’re so short-handed with so many people out sick, and we were behind on a lot of things,” said Cindy Gunter, the rescue’s president and co-founder. “It was wonderful to have children with their enthusiasm helping out.”
Gunter said the shelter’s animals were also grateful.
“They loved the kids and the attention,” she said. “You could tell they were very appreciative.”
The Day of Service was jointly organized by the Highland Lakes Crisis Network and Marble Falls ISD.
“At the end of the day, we wanted to highlight how special of a place Marble Falls is,” said Kevin Naumann, the Crisis Network’s executive director. “I think you saw that. You don’t see communities shutting down and sending kids to go love others. There is something special about this community, so doing things like this are important because, as our community grows, we want to be able to display to people who might come in from other places that you’re not in an ordinary spot.”
Naumann, who is also the MFISD board president, said the event even inspired some students to consider volunteering more frequently.
“I think they went into it not knowing what to expect,” he said. “Particularly, when they were coming back, it was fun to hear all that they did. It was fun to watch them be excited about it. We heard a lot of comments from students saying, ‘I need to volunteer more often.’ Even if one kid steps up and starts really getting what the idea of community service is, that makes it all worth it.”
Naumann met with middle schoolers tasked with picking up litter at Westside, Johnson, and Lakeside parks.
“They were talking about some of the trash they picked up in Johnson Park,” he said. “They were all going back and forth telling how big the pile of trash they collected was. It was sort of like a fishing trip. They kept telling the story, and the number of bags of trash kept getting bigger and bigger.”
During the service day, Crisis Network organizers used techniques similar to those used in managing natural disasters, matching volunteers to projects and transporting them.
“It was kind of good practice for us for disaster management,” Naumann said.
Positive feedback from residents at the end of the day could lead to an annual Rick Edwards Day of Service, Naumann said.
“Rick Edwards had a huge legacy, and it’s neat to see that legacy continue to live on,” he said. “If we could continue to do it, in honor of him, but also to inspire more people to love each other, I think it’s a win. As long as there are people out there who are willing to help coordinate and put it all on, I think we’ll probably see it again.”