If you visit Hoboken Grace long enough, you’ll hear it over and over again: We don’t just live here, we love here. We do everything we can to love Hoboken and make it the best it can be. One of the ways we do that is by taking our words and putting them into action through our biggest service project of the year, 1Day! For the past decade, we’ve taken one day to bring together as many people as we can to accomplish as much as we can for our city.
This year, Saturday morning on September 26th, over three hundred and seventy volunteers climbed out of their beds and got ready to show the residents of Hoboken how much they love them by working in teams to beautify and restore neighborhoods. Some teams planted flowers in parks, some painted railings and playgrounds, others cleaned up trash along the Hudson River, and so much more.
“1DayHoboken is the event I wait for every year. I love to connect with our community and having my 7-year-old son be a part of this with me, is really meaningful!” – Veronica, 1Day Volunteer
When church events were canceled in the spring and summer due to the pandemic, I was afraid that 1Day would be canceled too. But Hoboken Grace’s staff worked hard this year to make sure it happened in a safe and organized way. It looked a little different with virtual volunteer opportunities and multiple launch sites as groups met at three different parks throughout the city, but the fact that it happened, goes to show how passionate our community is about serving. It’s hard not to be encouraged by the difference that we were able to make in just one day, despite the circumstances.
As the opening prayer concluded, I grabbed my tools and set out for our designated location. Not knowing that I was assigned to help garden at one of the parks, I made a big mistake. That morning I decided to wear white shoes, not thinking about how dirty they might get, but that’s okay. Now the memories of 1Day live on my shoes and every time I see them, I’m reminded of what it looks like to serve our community. I’ve personally never been a fan of yard work, especially when I’m doing it all on my own. Raking leaves? They’re just going to fall again tomorrow. Mowing the lawn? Nothing more fun than walking back and forth in a yard for hours. That all changes, though, when I’m doing it with friends as a service to others. It’s a great way to give back to the community that I call home, while also making new friends or catching up with old ones.
While we’re all trying our best to find a sense of normal, whatever that means anymore, it was great to have an event that involved the whole church family and to keep the decade long tradition alive, despite circumstances working against us. Rain or shine, pandemic or not, it is important to show love through our actions. I can think of no better way to do that than putting in a hard day’s work for the city I love.