Bailey Wilson, a volunteer with the Fairhope United Methodist Church youth group from Fairhope, Ala., helps Keep Albany Dougherty Beautiful by putting a fresh coat of paint on the floor of Albany’s downtown Art Park as part of a mission trip to Albany this week coordinated by Mission Change. (Staff photo: Brad McEwen)
Art Park Cleanup
A youth group from Fairhope, Ala., spends time repainting the Art Park in downtown Albany.
ALBANY — Members of a church youth group from Alabama spent Monday morning helping Keep Albany Dougherty Beautiful (KADB) give Albany’s downtown Art Park a fresh canvas as part of a week long mission trip to the Good Life City.
According to KADB Executive Director Judy Bowles, the students are part of a youth group from Fairhope United Methodist Church in Fairhope, Ala., and are in Albany as part of a mission trip coordinated by local charitable organization Mission Change.
Bowles said that the youth group was made up of roughly 40 kids who were split into two groups and assigned different jobs throughout the community in support of KADB.
One group was responsible for painting the Art Park Monday and another group is painting Thornton Gym Tuesday. Both groups will also be picking up litter around the community as well.
“They’re having fun and also making our community look better,” said Bowles. “It’s a win win for everybody.”
The group assigned to the Art Park has been charged with painting the floor of the space, marking the second time KADB has repainted the park to allow for fresh art work.
“We painted the floor and the walls a year ago,” Bowles said. “It gives (artists) a fresh canvas.”
Bowles said this was the first year this particular group had come to Albany but that other groups have come in the past to do things for KADB.
“We work with volunteers and last year had over 37,000 volunteers that came in and they trimmed crepe myrtles, paint our gyms, paint the art park, pick up litter and just make our community a better place,” Bowles said. “Keep Albany Dougherty Beautiful is driven by volunteers. The last seven years we had a group from Jacksonville, Fla. This is the first year we’ve partnered with Mission Change.”
One of the youth group members who made the trip to Albany, Cairo Plauche, said she has been involved with Fairhope United Methodist Church doing mission work around her hometown in previous years but had never done an out of town mission trip prior to coming to Albany.
“This is my first summer going somewhere,” Paluche said. “We usually have mission week at the church and we help in our backyards and in downtown and everywhere. We came here last summer for one day but I didn’t get to go.”
Plauche said that since arriving in Albany Sunday night, she has been impressed with what she’s seen and experienced so far.
“(The people at Mission Change) are so dedicated,” Plauche said. “I’ve known them for two days and they are just working hard and are so dedicated to what they’re doing.”
In addition to being impressed with the work of Mission Change, Plauche said he was also impressed with Keep Albany Dougherty Beautiful and thinks the organization is doing good work.
“I think it’s a great idea,” Plauche said. “It’s a great way to get to know you’re community.”
Along with the other activities the youth group will be in Albany for KADB they will also be helping Mission Change with other projects throughout the community.
Mission Change Director LaDonna Urick said the mission trip came together after she and her husband, Todd, met Fairhope United Methodist’s Youth Director while the family was living in the Bahamas.
Urick said they have stayed in touch and that last year the group came to Albany for one day to help during a week-long mission trip to various cities.
This year however, the group decided to spend it’s entire week in Albany.
“They all wanted to come back here, which is pretty cool,” Urick said.
According to Urick, Mission Change has coordinated with various groups in Albany including the SOWEGA Council on Aging, Second Harvest Food Bank, the Salvation Army, and Flint River Habitat for Humanity to keep the youth volunteers busy all week.
“The volunteers do so much,” Urick said. “It also shows a spirit of cooperation and partnership that we’re working together all over the community.”
Urick said that even though they have a lot left to accomplish while in Albany this week, the group has already decided to return to the community next year.