Members of North Coast Church were told straight out – there will be no worship service the weekend of April 29-30, so don't even try to go to church as all five church campuses will be closed.
"They told their members, 'don't go to church, just dedicate this weekend to serving your community,' and oh my gosh, what a difference it makes," said David Jones, superintendent/principal of Vallecitos School District in Rainbow.
Vallecitos was one of the beneficiaries of North Coast Church's "Weekend of Service," a weekend in which members are advised, "don't go to church, go out and be the church" by helping others.
North Coast Church has campuses in Fallbrook, Vista, Carlsbad, San Marcos/Escondido and Ramona and that translates to a volunteer pool of more than 10,000 people for the "Weekend of Service." Church members tackle hundreds of projects.
"All five of our campuses are shutting down the for the weekend and being a part of our local community and trying to make an impact," said Trent Jenkins, campus pastor with North Coast Fallbrook, while spearheading the work at Vallecitos Elementary School. "Our Fallbrook campus has been on six different project sites this weekend."
In addition to Vallecitos, North Coast Church members from Fallbrook performed work at the Fallbrook facility of the Boys & Girls Clubs of North County, the Foundation for Senior Care, the Fallbrook Land Conservancy, Ingold Sports Park, and Jacob's House in Temecula.
"North Coast Church really stepped up – they're amazing," said Jones, who worked alongside volunteers from the church as well as volunteers from the school (staff and parents) and from the Temecula Rugby Club.
Jenkins said between 120 and 150 volunteers worked at the school during the two days and the results were very impressive as the entire school was painted, the pre-school playground was refurbished, and a broken drain pipe that caused flooding in the lunch area was replaced.
"I received estimates and that painting alone is about a $60,000 to $70,000 project," said Jones. "I had to shut the playground down after the heavy rains and flooding because it was unsafe. They took out an old playground structure, excavated all the sand and put in new rubber playground mulch for a new playground."
"In the lunch area, they dug up the broken pipe and put a new drainage system in," continued Jones. "We did this all in two days and combined, all three projects, that's $100,000 worth of work that North Coast Church and the other volunteers provided."
Jones said the gratis work at Vallecitos was greatly needed after a $1.5 million bond measure failed by just seven votes last year and the district was unable to secure Facilities Hardship Funding from the state.
"To see the project from beginning to end, it was just absolutely amazing what we got accomplished – it was so fun," said Jones with a laugh. "The kids walked in and their eyes were wide open – it was like they were in a different school."
Jones attended North Coast Church on May 7 to share his thoughts on the weekend and to deliver a packet of thank-you notes as every student wrote one.
The Fallbrook facility of the Boys and Girls Clubs of North County also benefited greatly from the "Weekend of Service."
"They totally redid our music room and built us a sound studio," said Lisa Ware, director of operations at the Fallbrook club. "They painted our hallway and painted our art room and put new built-ins in so the kids will have a counter. They put in an island and some cabinetry."
"We spread 25 cubic yards of mulch in the playground, and moved our giant sport court, which covers two full-size basketball courts," continued Ware. "It's in little tiles so you literally had to move them piece by piece. And they did weed-whacking and landscaping for us. A total remodel and cleanup job. The club looks so fresh and new."
As a director of operations who is on a tight budget, Ware greatly appreciated the generosity.
"I see things and think, 'oh we need to paint,' or, 'we need more mulch,' and the dollars signs are going through your mind and you just have to prioritize," said Ware. "This helped so much because this came with no price tag at all."
At the Foundation for Senior Care, development and outreach officer Theresa Geracitano reported that volunteers replaced 10 windows in the computer learning lab, installed three gates to make the property more accessible and safe, removed a fence barrier between the adult day care and administration buildings, and cleaned up the gardens around the gazebo.
North Coast Church conducts the "Weekend of Service" every two years.
"We team up with school districts to find areas with the biggest need, and we try to find different sites that are usually community projects or community-funded, like the Boys & Girls Clubs, that have a hard time getting structural improvements done," said Jenkins. "It takes a lot of money and volunteers. We just try to come in and give a boost for those organizations to be able to make it happen."
It's a "Weekend of Service" that results in great gratitude.
"I just felt so pleased and so touched, and just very, very excited and grateful for North Coast Church and how they served our school community and the difference they made," said Jones. "It was just a wonderful, wonderful weekend."