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Ventura County

Conejo Church to Lend a Hand -- Make That 2,000

About 1,000 members of Calvary Community in Westlake Village will help individuals, service agencies and schools with projects today.

May 31, 2003|Gregory W. Griggs | Times Staff Writer

More than 1,000 congregants of a Conejo Valley church will fan out across Ventura County today providing free labor and assistance to those in need.

Calvary Community Church in Westlake Village is tackling 80 projects on behalf of scores of individuals, service agencies and public schools as far away as Oxnard and Piru.

"Having churches, temples or any group willing to do work for the benefit of the entire community is wonderful," said Jim Friedl, deputy city manager of Thousand Oaks, home of several charities that will benefit from the day of service.

"That's one reason the Conejo Valley is such a wonderful place to live, because our residents have such a strong sense of ownership and volunteerism."

Calvary hopes its "Beyond the Walls, Intentional Acts of Service" becomes an annual event, spokeswoman Denise Davis said.

She said one-third of the 3,000 people who regularly attend Calvary signed up to assist groups, including local YMCAs, Easter Seals, the Area Housing Authority and Moorpark and Newbury Park high schools.

"It's likely more people will show up" to help out today, Davis said. "We wanted to show how we could get beyond the walls of our church and really reach out to the community that supports us."

Volunteer teams were set to start early this morning in locations such as Piru, where they will help construct a home for Habitat for Humanity.

About three dozen elderly and low-income residents at a Newbury Park mobile home park will receive help landscaping and cleaning their homes.

And the YMCA in Thousand Oaks will have extra hands available to clear a camp trail, spruce up a playground and repair a fire pit and bathroom.

Additionally, five car dealerships from Woodland Hills to Ventura are giving away a total of 250 vouchers for a free lube, oil and filter change to single parents identified by various agencies and the church.

A permanent facility for homeless men in Oxnard that counts on volunteer support is being visited by two groups from Calvary.

About 40 middle- and high-school students and 10 adults are set to clean the Rescue Mission and to serve pizza to an estimated 300 guests.

"We serve more than 900 meals a day out of this soup kitchen, and all our food is donated," said Gary Beaman, the mission's volunteer coordinator. "We really depend on the help of others, like Calvary."

Two affordable housing agencies -- Many Mansions and the Area Housing Authority of the County of Ventura -- will benefit from Calvary's outreach with general cleanup and repair work for tenants of their low-cost apartments.

Free haircuts are scheduled at one senior citizen complex, and at Many Mansions, a handful of volunteers with technical training will rewire the computer network at its headquarters.

Landscaping is the primary focus for volunteers visiting Senior Concerns' day-care center for the elderly in Thousand Oaks and a Presbyterian church in Newbury Park.

Senior Concerns President Evie Greene said that some plants put in when the facility expanded earlier this year did not survive and need to be replaced. Other volunteers will help with spring cleaning at a nearby thrift shop the nonprofit operates.

Neal Monroe, an elder at Monte Vista Presbyterian, estimates that his church is saving up to $100,000 by doing its own landscaping, which is part of a $2.75-million building project.

It's not unusual for larger churches to assist smaller places of worship within their community, Monroe said. "Churches have no pride. They'll accept help from anyone."

He said the extra labor is especially appreciated today, as workers dig trenches for an irrigation system.

"We have a Saturday work party every week," Monroe said. "If you get bored and want to take it out on the earth, come on over. We have a spare shovel."

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