Port Allen community, Baton Rouge Louisiana Stake link arms to help at schools, parks

Published: Saturday, May 14 2011 7:00 a.m. MDT

Mary Delapasse, director of the “Keep West Baton Rouge Parish Beautiful” campaign, was by far the most popular person at the event because she provided lunch for everybody. She’s also the coordinator between the church and parish and had been working on details for the past six months to make sure everything ran smoothly. Though she was extremely busy dropping off supplies for the kitchen volunteers, she still took time to thank the LDS Church for making all of this possible.

The idea of a Day of Service in the South began when Elder Walter F. Gonzalez of the Presidency of the Seventy, who presides over the North American Southeast Area of the LDS Church, realized how many people and small communities had been affected by the economic recession. He asked the members in the Southeast states to donate one day of service in their communities as a stake.

President Henry B. Eyring reinforced the idea during the 2011 April general conference, asking members worldwide to participate in a Day of Service to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the church welfare program. The Baton Rouge Stake, following the counsel of these leaders, found great joy in linking arms and lifting hearts with the people of Port Allen.

As the day wound down at Port Allen Middle School, Szymanski stood in the newly painted school gym, grinning.

“Isn’t this magnificent? Next year they said they could paint the beams,” he said of the beams three stories up.

Back over at Port Allen Elementary, volunteers were everywhere doing the last bit of painting and landscaping on the rebuilding project of the school’s old wooden play set, which took two days to complete and turned out amazing.

While Vaughan, who first suggested helping at the school, and others stood admiring the new tricycle track and watching one of Vaughan's fellow teachers, Stephanie Bourque, add the final stripes, Bourque looked up.

Catching a glimpse of Vaughan, she laughed, “See what you started.”

Nayda Easley is director of public affairs of the Baton Rouge Louisiana Stake of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

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