We are helping to change the face and identity of Modesto, California (working model) while inspiring as many cities possible toward: a renewed love for their city, community-wide volunteer days, ongoing volunteerism, collaboration among leaders and involvement with neighborhoods, schools and foster care/adoption.
Love Our Cities began out of the success of Love Modesto. Love Modesto started in 2007 at Big Valley Grace Community Church with two questions: 1) Why is our city on lists of the “worst cities in America”? 2) If our churches were to suddenly disappear from the Modesto area, would anyone even care or notice? We did not know the answers to these questions, but we knew we were called to love Modesto as Jesus would.
With a lot of dreaming and planning came our first Love Modesto on March 7, 2009. We were hoping for 100 people and more than 1,200 people showed up to love our city in practical ways. We’ve done this 12 more times since then and have added more than 50 cities. Over 70,500 people have been involved … young, old, abled, disabled; people from a church or no church at all. Around 250,000 volunteer hours have been donated – this is over $6.5 million dollars in service (independentsector.org) that we’ve given to our communities! At these community-wide volunteer days, people engage in a variety of projects, including offering food to the hungry, visiting convalescent homes, donating blood, building a house with Habitat for Humanity, and working in city parks and schools, among other opportunities.
Here are some of the stories:
“What a day! I think yesterday was probably the biggest special event day Modesto has ever had (I’ve lived here since 1971).”
“Love Riverbank was awesome today! We are truly a great community!”
“Congratulations to a successful day! It is the efforts of the community that can change a community. Job well done Love Escalon!”
“Our project leader was incredible. I’m not a church person, but he talked to me about why he helps out on projects through Love Fullerton and now I plan on visiting his church. If people like him are real— I want to be a part of whatever he has.”
After the first couple of years of these volunteer days, we were realizing that more sustainable solutions were needed in order to see our cities transformed. Our efforts evolved from beyond a day to championing ongoing volunteerism, collaboration among leaders and initiating the efforts of Love Our Neighborhoods, Love Our Schools and Love ALL Our Kids.
So many amazing stories have emerged from Love Our Cities, but perhaps the greatest stories are of the thousands who continue to volunteer regularly with organizations and areas they served. This is our hope and prayer…renewed pride in our cities, ongoing volunteerism and communities transformed.
“This is love, living in the way God commanded us to live. As you have heard from the beginning, his command is this: live a life of love.” 2 John 6