Children of the Burgess family, who moved into their new home over the weekend, help put down sod as Pinellas County employees work to get their home ready through Habitat for Humanity. Pictured, from left, are Aisha, 17; Kayla, 12; and Monica, 17.
For employees of Pinellas County, Martin Luther King Jr. Day is a Day of Service, a day to use time off from work to volunteer for the community.
In Clearwater, about 40 volunteers were hard at work for six hours at two homes in the Stevens Creek community. This is the second year that county staff has spent their Day of Service at the Habitat for Humanity development. At one home, they planted shrubs and laid down sod. At the other, workers painted a two-story house.
“Our organization could not continue to function if we did not have the level of commitment we get from Pinellas County and from throughout Pinellas County,” said David Fornek, the site supervisor.
One of the homeowners, Rebecca Burgess, was looking forward to moving into her new house along with her husband, grandmother and five children. She and her children helped lay sod in what will be the backyard of their two-story home.
“I feel very blessed to have all these people helping here,” she said. “It still does not feel real. I keep opening my eyes saying, ‘Is this my house?’”
Cleaning the Trail
In other parts of Pinellas County, people were scouring the Fred Marquis Pinellas Trail for trash and other debris as part of the Pinellas Trash Bash. Many of the volunteers were high school students who participated in the cleanup as part of their work in the Bright Futures scholarship program. Others were trail users or residents who wanted to make a difference in their neighborhoods.
Clearwater resident Jennifer Flory walked the trail and picked up litter with her 17-year-old son, Michael.
“It’s a perfect day to be out on the trail,” she said. “We’re grateful to have the day off so we can do this.”
The two picked up bottles, wrappers and “lots of cigarette butts,” according to Michael.
The two said they were considering adopting a mile of the trail.
Trash Bash was the kickoff to the county’s Adopt-A-Mile program, for which a group or organization can adopt a one-mile portion of the trail. Participants agree to clean their portion of the trail every other month for two years and the organization or group’s name is printed on trail markers in recognition of their commitment.