2017-08-11 / Faith

Church members take hand in upkeep

Volunteers put experience to good use in maintaining the buildings, grounds
By Cameron Kiszla


HELPING HAND—The Rev. Gary Keene, left, senior pastor of Camarillo United Methodist Church, and Randy Eccles, a church member, earlier this week at the church. Eccles is one of the many at CUMC who help with the upkeep of the campus on Anacapa Drive. 
RICHARD GILLARD/Acorn Newspapers HELPING HAND—The Rev. Gary Keene, left, senior pastor of Camarillo United Methodist Church, and Randy Eccles, a church member, earlier this week at the church. Eccles is one of the many at CUMC who help with the upkeep of the campus on Anacapa Drive. RICHARD GILLARD/Acorn Newspapers Randy Eccles spent the better part of a recent Friday morning with a paintbrush in hand, adding a fresh coat of paint to the steps in front of Camarillo United Methodist Church.

The 68- year- old retired plumber and business owner was finishing up a multi-day project painting steps and curbs.

Volunteers like Eccles keep the 5-acre property on Anacapa Drive looking well-kept and inviting for its 584 members.

Volunteer repair work is a long-standing tradition at the congregation, dating back to its construction in 1953 when volunteers helped build the first structure, a Quonset hut, now known as the multipurpose room.

Today, members pitch in to paint, garden and maintain the church’s five main buildings, pergola, prayer garden and two storage areas.

Bob Fierro, a contractor and churchgoer, said church members bring their professional skills when work needs to be done, and those without construction knowledge make up for it with effort.

“Most of us, we give our heart,” Fierro said. “What we do is take care of things that need to happen on a day-to-day basis. We take care of painting, plumbing, electrical. There’s really not much that we cannot do.”

Eccles may have begun as a plumber, but his work with a belt sander prompted Fierro to give him the nickname “Sandy.”

“Randy has a big heart, and he’ll do pretty much anything we ask him to do,” said Pam Dougherty, office director and treasurer.

For his part, Eccles sees himself as one of many people helping the church function.

“I’ve never lived in a community that’s really this giving,” he said. “It’s really a special place.”

The work is not limited to the congregation. Nancy Feder said she contributes by helping with fundraising for charities and by volunteering both locally and internationally. She pointed out that church members can be found making an impact in organizations including Habitat for Humanity and the Women’s Interfaith Network.

“We’ve been members of the church for probably 30 years, and that’s been going on as long as we’ve been members there and before that,” Feder said.

One particular focus of the church’s giving is a medical supply room, which provides wheelchairs and other healthcare devices at no cost to patients who could not otherwise afford them. Eccles was moved to serve on the medical supply room’s board after several surgeries of his own.

“The way we enact our faith is by helping others,” he said.

Dougherty agreed and said the members of Camarillo UMC are just doing their best to help those who need it.

“ The United Methodist Church has a mission statement that talks about transforming the world,” she said. “The way you do that is just a little bit at a time.”

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