Liz Golomski easily could have remained at home, supervising an outdoor service project for her and her husband, Steve.
But there was absolutely no way she would do that. She has received too many benefits from being served that it was only natural for her to give back in service to others, to live the words of Jesus Christ as quoted by St. Luke in Acts 20:35.
“It is more blessed to give than to receive.”
Count Golomski as blessed. On a glorious spring afternoon May 5, sunny with temperatures in the upper 60s, she gave back at Pauline Books & Media on Watson Road in Crestwood, just a small cog of the second annual Faith In Action Day of Service — St. Justin Martyr Parish’s service-day extravaganza.
About 375 parishioners participated, whether staying at the parish or fanning out for “Neighborhood Helper Projects.” At the parish, service ranged from outdoor projects such as tuck-pointing, building bird houses, mulching, planting and painting to indoor projects at the parish center such as assembling fleece blankets and summer reading kits, making sandwiches and freezer meals, baking and knitting for homebound parishioners, nursing homes, families in need and people who are homeless. Neighborhood projects included cleaning gutters and windows, painting and power washing, raking and mulching and more.
Golomski was on a small team doing yard work for the Daughters of St. Paul, pulling weeds by the store’s entrance in front and cleaning up around the grotto to Our Lady out back. That team was among nine that went mobile for service throughout Crestwood, both at people’s homes and in city parks.
Golomski’s house was one of the homes. While she pulled weeds at Pauline Books, volunteers Ed Shaver, Sharon Book, Lisa Arends and Michael Johnson attacked what was called “the Mount Everest of mulch piles” — 10 cubic yards — on Lawndale Drive, in the correct driveway to boot. A landscape company had inadvertently deposited the pile on the wrong driveway the previous day. Oops.
“But it got fixed; they came back and moved it all,” Liz Golomski said, adding that “our neighbor was very gracious about it.”
“And we didn’t know the people at all,” Steve Golomski said, with a laugh, noting that the errant delivery added to “Liz’s interesting day.”
She was in a car accident that day, too, but even with a few bumps and bruises, she was ready to answer the bell the next morning for the day of service.
“I wouldn’t miss it,” she said. “This is something I can do to give back. I feel so blessed to be in our church community and our Crestwood community. Our parish … ah … they have really …”
She choked back tears. “I get teary eyed talking about it,” she said. “Our parish has really embraced our family. They have been so generous.”
The parish dedicated its annual kickball tournament fundraiser 11 years ago to fund research for Machado-Joseph Disease, a rare neuro-muscular disease that Steve has (he now uses a wheelchair) and runs in his family.
Last year, 10 volunteers painted their fence and did landscaping on the service day.
“Talk about humbling,” Liz Golomski said, adding the service last year was so “totally off the charts” that she asked organizers to bypass their home this year so that another family would reap the benefits of parishioner’s service. Organizers quickly dismissed that idea, so Steve celebrated his 55th birthday by supervising the work from his front-row seat in the garage. Armed with shovels, wheel barrows, buckets and rakes, volunteers transported and spread the mulch in the front yard and back. Reinforcements arrived in early afternoon after completing neighborhood projects elsewhere.
Liz Golomski described the turnout of volunteers as “heartwarming. It takes a village, right? This is a great thing our parish has done.” Steve Golomski concurred.
The service day grew out of parishioner Erin Hopfinger’s desire to use her social-work background “to make a difference in people’s lives,” said Father Bill Kempf, who met Hopfinger just after he came on board in June 2016 as pastor. The Faith In Action group was born, with a focus on social justice issues. Through its education series, the group already has explored the subjects of mental health and racism, with more social-justice issues on the horizon. Service evolved as a social-justice issue, with outreach to those in need.
“It’s just the thought of giving back,” Hopfinger said. “This is what our faith calls us to do, not just to be part of our parish but to help people, to get out of our comfort zone and learn from other people who might be going through something different from us.”
Faith In Action “brings together our community — not just school families, not just elderly, but everybody; young and old working together,” she said.
The day of service on May 5 fed into Vigil Mass at 5 p.m., with food trucks completing what Hopfinger called a “most joy-filled day.”