Greater Victoria church initiative targets West Shore projects

Serve Our City ‘giving back’ events take place tomorrow

Volunteers will be getting their hands dirty on Saturday for the annual Serve Our City event, with family-friendly projects taking place across the region.

This year the event has expanded to include a number of projects on the West Shore. Part of that push to become more involved in the local community comes from Darren Abrahams, campus pastor of a new satellite church, GT Westhills, which is opening in September.

“This is the first time we’re running an active service campaign on the West Shore,” he said, adding this is a way of “introducing ourselves to the community.”

Serve Our City is a growing collective that see five churches partner to provide practical assistance in their respective communities as a way of saying thanks for all of the amazing work that has already been done. Church volunteers will be working at approximately 25 sites around Greater Victoria, while GT Westhills will focus on four specific sites.

Those projects include removing invasive species from Glen Lake Beach Park, doing landscaping around the Langford Legion, picking up trash at Esquimalt Lagoon and helping at the Women’s Transition House in Sooke.

Abrahams will be stationed at Glen Lake, working with a team of approximately 25 volunteers under the direction of Jane Waters, Langford park planner, to weed the park’s rain garden.

Working with different groups such as the City of Langford, is key, he said. “We would much prefer to come alongside the community and find out what they need.” These projects are a way to let West Shore residents know “we are standing alongside and partnering with them … (it’s) a way to give back and show support.”

GT Westhills, a satellite of parent church Glad Tidings Victoria, will hold services on Sunday in Belmont secondary’s new theatre starting on Sept. 11. “It’s a beautiful facility,” Abrahams said.

He added Belmont principal Ray Miller has been phenomenal to work with and he looks forward to finding out how they can better serve the school’s needs.

“Our goal is to be an integral partner in the community,” the pastor said, adding “we’re privileged to come out and be a part of it.”

But it’s not just future members of the congregation that can get involved in Saturday’s events. Abrahams said they are open to anyone wishing to give back in some way. Volunteers can show up at the sites tomorrow, but it’s best if they register online first.

“The main reason we’re asking people to register is because we’re having a barbecue afterwards.” And, he joked, they need to know roughly how many people will be attending for catering reasons. The barbecue will take place on West Shore Parkway at the Westshore Rebels’ new facility.

Most of the projects will run from approximately 9 to 11 a.m. Lots of hands make light work and by having a lot of people volunteer their time for a relatively short time period, they can still accomplish a lot. At the same time, the goal is to make it more accessible for children to get involved. Abrahams said the whole idea of the day is family-friendly projects that will have an impact on some important service providers.

To learn more about some of the projects or to get involved, go to serveourcityvictoria.com.

katie@goldstreamgazette.com

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