In the early morning hours of May 6, individuals of all ages and backgrounds began arriving at sites in cities across the South Bay and L.A. Harbor areas, ready to don gloves, grab shovels and paintbrushes, and get their hands dirty as part of Sharefest’s 14th annual Workday.

On this day, more than 3,000 volunteers united across 44 sites with a shared purpose: to gather in community and give of their time and talents to help improve schools, community centers, parks, and more. The day allowed groups and families to adopt and participate in projects like the GRoW Community Garden at the Watts Century Latino Organization, the San Pedro Gateway Triangle landscaping update, Paseo Del Mar Guardrail improvements, and L.A. County Department of Child and Family Services employee lounge remodel, as well as much needed campus upgrades at 32 local elementary, middle, and high schools.

“[The best part about my Workday experience was] seeing the community and our school’s families come together for an important purpose. Working side by side allows us to get to know each other and have fun,” shared Kris Lauritson, Garden Educator at Lawndale Elementary School District.

Each project is completed at no cost to the recipients, thanks to sponsorships from numerous organizations who step up to support these community improvements. This year’s sponsors included Balfour Beatty Construction, The Harbor Community Benefit Foundation, Phillips 66, Council District 15, and many others. From providing funds or materials for projects, to bringing volunteers to serve, these sponsors made a significant impact.

Youth involvement is also a key part of the day, and an important aspect of Sharefest’s mission. “These youth are our future, and we want to encourage and empower them to get involved and become more invested in their communities,” said Chad Mayer, Sharefest Executive Director. “When they take ownership of these projects, they develop a deeper sense of pride for the places they live, and they want to see them thrive.”

As part of this effort, students from Sharefest’s Youth Development Academy and Youth Leadership Council participated in several projects during the day. Service learning is a core component of these programs that focus on developing leadership skills and civic mindedness. “We hope [the work completed during the Workday] will inspire other communities. To show that we care about our community also teaches us to be more appreciative about things around our community,” said Elmer, a student from Avalon Continuation High School.

Over the course of the day, an estimated $798,544 in improvements took place across all sites. Even more important, volunteers, businesses, and project recipients forged new relationships as they worked side by side to beautify and positively impact our communities.

Get a glimpse of this year’s Workday accomplishments! View photos and the 2017 Workday video.