Paint the Town

This summer groups of volunteers, most of them from the South, arranged their own transportation and lodging to come to Millburn Middle School to paint our school. Paint the Town, an organization that coordinates volunteers and supplies them with paint and equipment from corporate donors, generously selected Millburn Middle School.

It all started with the South Mountain Church, and its pastor, Bob Griner, who used our school for services until renovations were completed on their new house of worship. He simply wanted to give back to the community and at the same time offer opportunity for service to others. The offer came at the right time for a school that needed a facelift just after the community had rejected a bond referendum.

With the exception of the eighth grade wing, cafeteria, and some stairwells, the entire school was painted. This was an incredible model of generosity and volunteerism on the parts of individuals who wanted to perform service for a community they neither knew nor lived near. When I tried to thank individuals and their leaders for their contribution to making our building brighter and cleaner, they would in turn thank me for allowing them the opportunity.

While the summer is the only time a project of this magnitude can happen, I think it is important for our students to know, if they could not see for themselves, how people can partake of community service and volunteerism without the expectation of anything in return but the satisfaction of a job well done as a good deed for others. Our leadership and guidance programs aim for all of our students to help others, and what was accomplished here this summer serves as a “real life” example.

NOTE: The project involved 175 gallons of paint for 39 rooms, six hallways and the cafeteria. The number of volunteers participating between June 28 and August 18, 2006, was 135. The district business administrator estimated the volunteer effort saved the district time and money to the tune of $70,000. The result is a cleaner, brighter learning environment and an interior building of which we can again be proud. It is hard to put a dollar amount on that.

A year later Bob Griner and his volunteers, many of whom had painted our school the year before, returned to landscape the front lawn, again at no cost to the district. The volunteers labored to remove older shrubs and trees and replaced them with plantings that were symmetrically arranged and spaced. The new plantings included flowering shrubs, evergreens, and cherry blossom trees. The Community Church raised donations tallying $14,000 and provided free labor to undertake this community project. The new landscaping transformed the face of our building and graced it with the sense of pride it deserved.

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