BotanyLife Community Church in Auckland runs a recurring ‘Community Project’ as part of their “go and do” identity – imagine Mucking In meets Extreme Makeover Home Edition. Community pastor Mark van Wijk talks about the importance of getting their hands dirty for the community.
Each year, teams from BotanyLife spend a weekend paving, building, planting, sewing and painting with an organisation in their community (usually a school) bringing them renovations they need but cannot afford.
The church has just confirmed that this year’s Community Project will take place at Wakaaranga School, which accepted the offer from BotanyLife this week. So, this September van Wijk and a couple of hundred helping hands from the community will turn up and transform their school environment.
A lot of careful research goes into choosing the organization they will be helping, says van Wijk, and because the community is aware of the work they do, they don't approach an organisation until they're ready to make an offer of their services.
Students and children from the community usually join the teams for a shift on the Sunday of the weekend project. In a previous Community Project, kids were put in charge planting out a feijoa hedge maze.
“They take a bit of ownership of what they’ve been doing,” says van Wijk.
They aren't renovation superheroes; van Wijk says it’s important they aren’t perceived as the, “middle class neighbours here to save the day.” Instead, they engage with the school, the local community and local businesses. And that way the whole team gets to enjoy watching their responses as they see the transformation unfold.
“It’s always bigger than what they’re expecting.”
More photos from last year's Anchorage Park School Community Project can be seen on the BotanyLife Facebook page.