PHOENIX - In the world of volunteers and community, its not unusual for some to come to the aid of others, to lift them up in hope for the best they can be. And in that realm, there is almost no end to the opportunities for partnerships and improvements. Even a brief moment of notice curbside can turn the eye towards one community need, where Phoenix fire hydrants, unfailing in their devotion to duty, are a bit in need of their own service rescue.

As seemingly small as it is, fire hydrants were one element identified by the School and Community Partnership where small acts of care could go a long way towards improving visual appeal and community pride. Along with prior service events like the Earth Day Clean-up, it’s a simple way for regular people to engage on a personal level and still benefit the overall impression for everyone.

The School and Community Partnership (SCP) project has at its core an interest in bringing people and groups together for the improvement of Phoenix. With each new idea, they will continue to team the efforts and volunteer opportunities available, coordinating with Phoenix Rising, the village of Phoenix, community residents, businesses, students and school district staff to try and make it happen.

When it comes to fire hydrants, few residents think of them as needing attention. Reality and observation shows differently. In addition to the required use in fire situations, they stand ready against the wind, cold, rain, and heat. In the summer, peeling paint is evident. In the winter, they get buried in snow, making access more difficult. With that in mind, the SCP made it a priority, starting this summer. They reached out to their network, looking for volunteers willing to learn how to care for, paint and protect fire hydrants in the community and in their own neighborhood or yard areas, and even included an offer of training.

The group kicked off their project on Wednesday, July 10 with that training, on one very hot day. School superintendent Chris Byrne explained, “We had three students and one adult volunteer attend the event. We had a local representative from the police department (who is also a volunteer fireman) provide an overview and demonstrate the procedures for painting the hydrants.”

Due to the incredible heat and humidity, it was only an overview, but all volunteers indicated they would return that Friday at 2 p.m. to start by painting four hydrants on the campus of Emerson J. Dillon Middle School. Within a few days, several were completed.

Volunteers at the event, and in the community, are also encouraged to locate hydrants near their homes, to participate - to scrape and paint them. Village administrator Jim Lynch also volunteered to meet with anyone interested in learning more about how to upgrade and maintain fire hydrant appearance and access.

“This will be an ongoing activity that we will promote on social media and on our district website,” said Byrne. “The village and school district will work collaboratively to deliver materials to anyone interested in contributing time to this project”. The group may also launch another ‘kick off training’ event as the school year gets going.

The plan is to add “shoveling hydrants” to volunteer requests in the fall. And having now gone through the process of scraping, painting and clean up of a hydrant, organizers have a pretty good idea of what it takes.

“Approximately three hours; which all doesn’t have to be done in the same day,” Byrne says. And, it is pointed out, people can volunteer at any time. Jim Lynch has committed to meeting with anyone who was unable to attend the recent training, and is interested in painting or shoveling fire hydrants, to show them how it’s done.

More information can be obtained by visiting www.phoenixcsd.org/volunteer or visiting the Phoenix School District home page, clicking on the “For Community” tab on the home page, then clicking on the “School and Community Partnership” link to register as a volunteer. That link also offers a chance to suggest a project, or location, or make a financial donation towards project needs. Upcoming project events include ‘Rock the Lock’ and ‘Locktoberfest’ – both needing support. Any person or business who donates towards the partnership will be publicized as a sponsor of an event or projects through the use of banners, social media and news broadcasts.

There are high hopes of officially expanding these kinds of opportunities throughout the village and community areas, with students and adults alike, as these small acts of helping rescue or improve the life of another takes hold. Standing ready to help save lives, even local fire hydrants can stand some TLC to lift them up to their proud service in community.

And those who live near them might just need the help to get it done, or be that person who feels a strong sense of purpose in being a part of just this one small act. For example, with some people unable to take on the physical labor of caring for a hydrant, one neighbor could volunteer to paint a hydrant in the next yard, with that owner’s permission. Or if a local church has a hydrant near their space, church members or neighbors could adopt and volunteer to assist. The village highly encourages those who know of someone who specifically needs help – elderly, medically fragile or shut-ins – to come forward with a suggestion of needs, whether hydrant or property care. People can call Jim Lynch at 315-575-3316, or Chris Byrne at 315-695-1555 to discuss or advance any project ideas.

The School and Community Partnership projects encourage those of every age to consider how they can contribute to clean up improvements, such as ‘adopting’ a fire hydrant and bringing it to life. Whether in someone’s own space – or along community curbsides – lifting the looks around town are one sure way to make Phoenix a more enticing place for everyone to live.

Johnson Newspapers 7.1

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