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Bowerman, Reed receive facility improvements from James River Project Partnership volunteers

For the 22nd year, hundreds of James River volunteers spent a Saturday making cosmetic improvements to SPS schools. More than 600 volunteers descended onto Bowerman Elementary and Reed Academy July 18.

“This year at Bowerman and Reed, we did some construction projects that skilled guys and gals were able to do, but a lot of the things we do are just throwing a thousand hours at a project and putting hands to work,” said Chuck Greenaway, director of church and community care at James River Church. “If they don’t have a skill, we give them a two-minute tutorial and a paintbrush; that way, everyone can get involved who wants to be.”

This year, James River volunteers gave up more than 4,000 hours of service to improve school facilities. At Bowerman, groups painted exterior walls, landscaped the grounds and made improvements to an outdoor classroom.

At Reed, volunteers re-did landscaping at the building’s main and bus entrance, power washed the sidewalk, trimmed trees, redid landscaping and built benches for an outdoor classroom for the school. The amount and quality of work completed in a day was awesome, said principal Sara Strohm.

“Our building is 100 years old -- it’s an old building, and that’s not a bad thing, but it does require upkeep,” said Strohm. “They did all the campus upgrades that make our building shine and our neighborhood proud. We’ve got a lot of teachers here who were students here, students whose grandparents went to school here. When they see a building that shines, it gives them pride and ownership in their school and their community. That way, when they get here, they’re ready to learn and thrive.”

Last year, more than 1,200 volunteers participated in the Project Partnership service day. In two decades, the service tradition has saved SPS tens of thousands of dollars and hours of time in minor, but critically important, campus maintenance projects. But with the complications of COVID-19, Greenaway, Strohm and SPS leaders are grateful for those who wore a mask and gave their time for students in their community.

“Project Partnership with James River is a true blessing for the facilities team,” said Shawn Dilday, director of facilities at SPS. “We have buildings on paint rotation and without the help of James River, we would not be able to accomplish as many yearly. The impact is huge! They will paint the interior of an entire building in a weekend, and we’re so grateful -- we know students are, too.”