Northern New England Conference’s superintendent of schools, Trevor Schlisner, had a problem—one of the schools in the conference, Riverview Memorial school in Norridgewock, Maine, needed some help attacking a long list of maintenance and housekeeping needs. But where could Schlisner find some volunteers to assist the school? Then an idea hit him, What if the conference office workers set aside a day to travel to the school and get the work done? After all, Schlisner thought, many hands make for light work.
Schlisner took the idea to conference president Bob Cundiff, who immediately liked it, and the two of them started looking at the calendar in search of a day that was not already scheduled with meetings. That day turned out to be July 31, and on that Wednesday the office staff of the conference showed up bright and early at Riverview Memorial school, which is located some 90 miles from the conference office.
The school’s teacher, Elizabeth Somers, welcomed the staff with a broad smile and helped them sort through the tasks for the day. There was a great deal to do—the entire outside of the school building needed to be pressure washed. The entire inside needed a deep cleaning and rearranging. The school’s attic needed cleaning out. The school’s storage shed and greenhouse needed cleaning out. And the trees in front of the school needed trimming.
The staff joined forces with volunteers from the church, formed into teams, and fanned out across the school. Cundiff was assigned to pressure-wash the outside of the school, a task requiring patience and attention to detail. “You know what?” asked Cundiff, when he was about halfway through with the building. “I needed a day like this. I needed a day where I could look at the work behind me and see it was done, and look at the work ahead, knowing I will finish. This day is like medicine for me.”
Schlisner was assigned to clean out the storage shed and greenhouse, and his enthusiasm for his task remained high throughout the day. “The people of the Norridgewock church have been so supportive of their school for so many years, and our coming in and helping will be like a shot in the arm for them. It will show them that they aren’t alone.”
Treasury assistant Jackie Howard immersed herself in the work of cleaning, vacuuming, and organizing, while treasurer Daniel Battin donned protective gear and performed some serious trimming of the trees in front of the school. By late afternoon the entire list of needed tasks was completed and the staff met briefly before heading home. “You know what?” said Cundiff, “We’re going to do this again. We’re going to make this a regular thing, because it connects us with the people and churches and schools that we serve, and because it reinvigorates us for the work we do every day.”
Schlisner smiled and pumped his fist in response. “I know just the place for the next one,” he said.