In May 2022, Students from Upper Columbia Academy spent a school day volunteering in Malden, Washington. The high schoolers helped paint and landscape houses that were built to replace homes lost in a fire nearly two years ago.
Started by a tree branch falling on a power line on September 7, 2020, the Babb Road Fire burned through 15,000 acres of land. The fire destroyed the neighboring towns of Malden and Pine City, Washington after burning more than 80% of the cities’ structures to the ground. Ever since the event, the residents of Malden, with the help of local volunteers, have been steadily working on rebuilding their community.
On May 12, 2022, 130 UCA students traveled the short distance from their school to Malden to help with the town’s restoration. The students worked on painting and landscaping homes that were recently built with disaster relief funds granted by the American Red Cross. After the construction of the houses, the leftover grant money was used to purchase the supplies needed for painting and landscaping the new buildings. With the help of the high school volunteers, Malden residents were able to finish painting the exterior of nearly six houses.
The students volunteered in Malden as a part of UCA’s Helping Other People Everywhere task force. Founded by students in 1993, HOPE is an outreach program that strives to get students involved in the community. The day spent in Malden was one of four HOPE task force events that UCA planned for their students and staff over the 2021-2022 school year.
In the nearly thirty years since its implementation, HOPE has made a big impact on the school. “I believe that the HOPE task force is one of the most important things we do on this campus,” said Curtis Anderson, HOPE coordinator. “It is a chance for our kids to get outside their comfort zones and do something good for someone else.”
Students reported being especially inspired by their work in Malden and were excited to be involved in a project that made real change in people’s lives. “The kids were moved by the feeling that they made a difference,” said Anderson. “That is always the goal, but sometimes it doesn’t happen.”
In addition to other volunteer work, UCA’s HOPE task force plans to continue working with the residents of Malden to help rebuild their town. For more information on how to help the Malden community, visit hope-builders.com/malden.