|August 12, 2013 • VOL. 51, NO. 14 • Oakland, CA|
Senior group 'Tuesdays with Larry'
keeps Assumption grounds neat
Assumption Church in San Leandro hasn't had a professional gardener or maintenance person for the past 18 years. However if you stroll around the parish grounds looking for weeds, peeling paint or unkempt bushes, you won't find any.
Explaining that it isn't always easy to tap into the impressive talent pool of a parish, Larry Graves, who ran a tire shop founded by his father, took on the role of the "pusher" or as he described it, someone has to push to get things done. The volunteer group soon became known as "Tuesdays with Larry," a title inspired by the book, "Tuesdays with Morrie."
The volunteers, most of whom work three to four hours a week, have diverse backgrounds and come from all walks of life, Graves said. They have included a volunteer who had been a carpenter, another was a telephone company technician, a retired stenographer and a former city councilman of San Leandro.
Oscar Borin, who used to supervise machine shops, has the distinction of being "one of our best workers," a "wizard with the roses," and at age 92 is the oldest volunteer "and still going strong," Graves said.
In 2005 the volunteers designed and helped construct a bathroom in the church that was more accessible for parishioners and others visiting the church with physical disabilities. This work supplemented what Graves called "a tiny three foot by eight foot bathroom."
Other projects tackled by the TWL workers include removing and replacing 93 feet of badly cracked concrete sidewalk in front of the church; remodeling and painting the kitchen adjacent to the parish social hall; and rewiring the school office so that portable heaters could be turned on in the winter without tripping the circuit breakers.
Over the years and under the umbrella of maintenance work, the volunteers have cleaned roof gutters, repaired and stained fences, painted the sacristy and church bathrooms, waxed the church floor and pews, and maintained the kneelers.
From 1996 to 2013 Graves has estimated that the volunteers have put in 32,000 hours of physical work, saving Assumption parish more than $500,000. However the attrition rate for the senior volunteers is high. Many have moved away or can no longer do the physical work. A few have died.
"Nevertheless, we carry on the best we can," Graves said. "When people donate their talents and treasures, there is almost no limit to what can be accomplished, albeit at a slower pace."
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