Grace Chapel is planning its annual Serve the Schools event for Aug. 24

At Wilsonville’s Grace Chapel, 41 percent of the congregation is of school age, and many church employees, including one of its pastors, Milo Curtis, have children in the city’s public schools. Those facts, combined with the church’s desire to serve the local community, have led to the creation of an annual volunteer-driven event, Serve the Schools.

Working in cooperation with the operations department of the West Linn-Wilsonville School District, organizers say the Serve the School event offers the chance to spruce up the community’s schools before students and their families start returning next month.

The church has sponsored similar cleanups twice a year for at least the last four years. This year, volunteers will work from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Aug. 24.

by: PAMPLIN MEDIA GROUP: VERN UYETAKE - Lauren Pickthorn, left, and Milo Curtis are leading the effort to clean up Wilsonville school on August 24Organizers Lauren Pickthorn and Milo Curtis hope to focus on the schools’ “curb appeal” by weeding, planting and spreading bark dust in highly visible areas around Arts and Technology High School, Wilsonville High School, Inza Wood Middle School and Boeckman Creek and Boones Ferry primary schools. The district determined that Lowrie did not require any volunteer effort at this time.

“A lot of what we’re doing is front door stuff, what kids will see on the first day of school,” Curtis said.

Volunteers are asked to bring work gloves and simple tools if available. The church will provide some tools, and the district will provide all necessary materials, including bark dust, plants and dump trucks for volunteers to load debris into.

“They’ve made a huge difference,” WL-WV Facilities Manager Pat McGough said. “I can’t say enough good things. ... The district is a willing partner and we’ll give them whatever they need to be productive.”

The school district maintains 15 schools and 360 acres of land in West Linn and Wilsonville.

“We only have six permanent positions in the grounds department,” McGough said. “It’s more than we can do with the number of people that we have, and so the community has seen that and they’ve pitched in and we really appreciate that.”

“We live in a really great school district,” Curtis said. “We can pull weeds. It doesn’t require a strong skill set, just a strong back and the willingness to show up for a couple of hours on a Saturday.”

“It’s time-consuming,” McGough said. “It’s not exceptionally difficult, it just takes a lot of time. Those are the things that make any site attractive. It’s the one goal that we always try to meet and never quite seem to get there, having our sites look like somebody cares about them. ... Grace Chapel has partnered with us for years, and I think we’ve gotten to a really good place where they’re not only effective but enjoy what they’re doing.”

One detail might add to participants’ enjoyment of the day: They get to choose the school where they’d like to devote their efforts.

“People can work where they’re already invested,” Curtis said, noting that both he and Pickthorn have children in Wilsonville schools.

“My kids will work at Boones,” he said. “To us, as a family, it’s a good teaching opportunity: ‘This is your school. We have a civic responsibility to be good stewards.’”

Pickthorn said it was difficult to predict what projects would be completed on the day of service. Plans will depend on how many people sign up to volunteer.

“Every year it’s been different,” Pickthorn said.

Participants are encouraged to sign up at or call 503-570-2988. Once organizers know how many people to expect, they will plan projects at each school site.

All ages are welcome, with parent supervision. Volunteers should meet at Wilsonville High school at 9 a.m. on Aug. 24 to register before going to the campus they wish to work at.

Grace Chapel is a nondenominational church founded in 1998. The church offices are located at 28925 SW Bogerg Road in Wilsonville; the congregation meets at 9600 SW Boeckman Road, with about 700 people gathering to worship each week.

More information about the church is available on its websiste at

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