Whidbey churches mark Sept. 11 with community service

Mike Connell, left, and Mark Soptich clear trails in the forest to make two new holes for Oak Harbor’s Frisbee golf course on Saturday, Sept. 11. - Courtesy photo
Mike Connell, left, and Mark Soptich clear trails in the forest to make two new holes for Oak Harbor’s Frisbee golf course on Saturday, Sept. 11.
— image credit: Courtesy photo

Immediately after the tragic Sept. 11 attacks in 2001 it was difficult to find a business or home that wasn’t flying an American flag. Outreach for families and organizations in need was abundant. But as time wore on and years passed, the zeal for helping others slowly tapered off. But, one Oak Harbor community is working to keep the loving spirit alive.

Four congregations from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints gathered on Saturday, Sept. 11 to do service projects in island parks.

Groups from Oak Harbor First Ward revamped several holes of the new Frisbee golf course at Fort Nugent Park. Earlier in the week, crews went in to clear the forest and the work was completed on Saturday.

“It was a very dense forest, and we wanted to do this heavy work when there were no other people around,” Bishop Mark Soptich from First Ward said.

The church volunteers helped cut down trees and blaze trails. In addition, the groups cleaned up the playground and spread beauty bark there and at Fireside Park where they also planted trees.

Another congregation worked at Fort Ebey and Deception Pass State Park clearing non-native beach grasses and building barriers to protect hikers on steep bluffs.

Steven Glade of Latter-day Saints spent his morning at Fort Nugent. He said hundreds of people came out to work on the projects and that despite a few incidents with a stubborn chipper, the work went smoothly. Plus, the sunny, yet cool weather didn’t hurt.

Glade said the parks department reached out to the church and asked for help. The church helped install the Frisbee golf course last year, and Glade said its members are happy to help with ongoing maintenance.

This was the first time the Latter-day Saints members have done projects on Sept. 11, but Glade said the tradition will continue. He said the church believes that the willingness to give free aid to others is a trait that should be demonstrated to children.

In the future, Glade would like to see more people join the effort and plans to invite other churches to pitch in uniting the island.

“We live in a great community with great parks, and it’s a privilege to help make them better,” he said. “They always need you.”

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