Cleaning up York's Clarence Gardens

Missionaries helping clean Clarence Gardens
David Bower, who has been visiting the park for over 60 years.

Clarence Gardens is a little green oasis on the edge of York, opposite the York District Hospital. It attracts families with children who visit the playground, locals who use the bowling green, dog walkers, people just wanting to rest on a bench and eat their lunch, or those waiting for a hospital appointment. 

The day I visited the Gardens for a clean-up project was a long-awaited and beautiful day.  For quite a while I noticed a man who had been sitting on one of the benches. I went to chat with him and learnt that he had been coming to the Gardens ever since he could remember.  He had fond memories of visiting with his mother and grandmother from the age of four. David Bower is now 64 and told me of the many changes he had seen over the years, from the Gardens being immaculately maintained with a park keeper and gardeners, then a period when it became unkempt and overgrown, and to the present day being maintained by volunteer groups. 

Elder Allen is a full time service missionary for the Church, from the York 1st ward. He has been volunteering two days a week at the Gardens along with the local teaching missionaries who join him for a few hours each Thursday. This week he was joined by four other elders, six sister missionaries, and President Bill Kimberling, the Service Mission leader.

Left to right, Elder Gargalis and Elder Karino who are serving in the Harrogate ward and on the right is Elder Allen who is a full time service missionary.

Joining the missionaries were a group of volunteers from Portakabin Limited, York, one of many organisations that volunteer for projects like the Clarence Gardens clean up, through the organisation York Cares, a partnership of employers committed to making York a better place through employee-volunteering. It brings businesses, employees, and communities together by matching the skills and expertise of employers and their employees to community projects, where they can have the most impact, help create a wonderful community spirit, and support local needs.

The Church first got involved helping York City Council when York experienced devastating floods in 2015.  Rowntree Park had been severely affected.  A group of over 300 volunteers made up of members of the York Stake and residents worked together on this JustServe project to help clean up the park and lay tons of fresh mulch.  

The Gardens volunteering projects are all made possible and overseen by Ian Dunn, York City Council’s Environment & Community officer.  He is passionate about his work and a wonderful support to all wanting to get involved with the York projects.

Ian Dunn, York city council’s Environment & community officer and right, Elder Bill Kimberling, service mission leader

In his talk, “The second great commandment”, President Russell M Nelson said, “Giving help to others—making a conscientious effort to care about others as much as or more than we care about ourselves—is our joy. Especially, I might add, when it is not convenient and when it takes us out of our comfort zone. Living that second great commandment is the key to becoming a true disciple of Jesus Christ.”

If you would like to get involved in serving in the community and see what opportunities there are near you, sign up on JustServe.