SERVE Noblesville Endeavors to Unite the Local Community
Photographer / Amy Payne
SERVE Noblesville, a partnership of neighbors, churches, businesses and organizations whose goal is to connect compassionate neighbors, has served the Noblesville community for the past nine years. The organization has designated the dates of August 6-8, 13-15, and 20-22 this year to perform a number of service projects to create a sense of pride and ownership in Noblesville.
“We call that our SERVE week,” says Patrick Propst, CEO of SERVE Noblesville.
Last year the organization completed 77 projects in four days, mobilizing 770 volunteers.
The projects, which primarily serve the elderly and disabled as well as those with a low or fixed income, change each year but often include roof repairs, bathroom remodels, painting, planting and building. Several years ago the local high school football team demolished an old garage that was in disrepair, then hauled away the debris. Other projects include minor repairs at the Hamilton Heights girls soccer club, painting at a golf course driving range, and a patio installation at the local Boys & Girls Club.
Although based in Noblesville, the organization serves throughout Hamilton county.
“We like to help wherever the need arises,” says Propst, who estimates that each project costs roughly $250.
SERVE has an open application season for submission of project ideas. Each project application must include three pieces of information – a project leader, the resources and funding behind it, and a team of volunteers. The application must identify the materials, time, tools and number of volunteers necessary to complete the project.
“We always have a good group of volunteers who come out,” Propst says. These include local contractors, landscapers and other professionals. Local residents pitch in as well – in fact, SERVE typically draws folks who schedule their annual vacations around the last week of June in order to be a part of the organization’s community outreach.
“Through the years, these people have created friendships with others during SERVE week and have really made serving a priority in their lives,” says Propst, noting that sometimes individuals volunteer, and other times businesses send groups of employees.
Sometimes volunteers arrive at just the right time. For instance, one year on the first day of SERVE week, leaders realized that although funding for a roof repair project was sufficient, SERVE had no volunteers to tackle it.
“Then suddenly, in walks 15 guys wearing matching shirts – all roofing contractors,” recalls Propst, who asked why they were there. The men said they had gone to their scheduled worksite that morning, and their boss suggested they head over to SERVE Noblesville to see if they were needed.
Business leaders who want to help but can’t physically send volunteers can sponsor a project.
“The thing about SERVE Noblesville is that we’re not about doing service projects in the community,” Propst says. “We’re really about connecting the community, and we use service projects as a conduit to do that.”
Propst maintains that many people want to give back, make a difference and help their neighbor, but don’t know where to begin.
“SERVE Noblesville provides a place for them to come together to exercise that compassion muscle while building and strengthening their community,” Propst says. “I call this the ‘reimagined new front porch.’”
SERVE week provides an opportunity for multiple generations to work side by side, as parents and their kids, or grandparents and their grandkids, can volunteer together.
“What that does is it locks you into community, because every time you drive past that spot, kids will say, ‘Remember when we built that/painted that/planted that?’,” Propst says. “They are rich moments to own as people recognize that this is my community and I’ve got skin in the game here.”
In addition to SERVE week, on Memorial Day weekend the organization holds an event called Come Together Weekend. Held on the anniversary of the Noblesville school shooting that occurred in 2018, it’s a reminder for people to connect as a community.
“We encourage folks to post pictures to social media of their cookouts, celebrations and parties to share how they are connecting with people,” Propst says.
SERVE Noblesville also hosts the city’s Cultural Celebration, which was motivated by the fact that the local school system has 55 languages spoken.
“Most of us find that shocking and unbelievable,” Propst says. “We wanted a place for those neighbors to be seen, connected with and appreciated, and we wanted it to be a backyard celebration of the Noblesville culture that recognizes everybody who lives here.”
This year’s Cultural Celebration will be held on May 29. Noblesville residents will host booths so others in the community can learn about their history and background.
“We have a lot who come out and serve food samplings from their homeland,” Propst says. “This gives business partners a chance to be directly supported while also developing a relationship.”
For more information on SERVE Noblesville, call 317-674-3774, email email@example.com, or visit servenoblesville.com.