Serve 300 volunteers showcase why they signed up to help for infrastructure day.
Serve 300 volunteers participate in the service day themed around infrastructure. Credit: Courtesy / Tricentennial Commission

San Antonio’s 300th year has brought thousands of people together to volunteer their time to nonprofits and city projects, and on Saturday, the Tricentennial Commission will host its final volunteer event of the year.

More than 5,500 San Antonians have contributed more than 18,000 hours of community service to the Serve 300 SA initiative, according to Tricentennial Commission spokeswoman Laura Mayes.

“If those 5,500 volunteers had been hired, that would have been $444,000 [in wages],” Mayes said. “It’s pretty significant when you think of smaller nonprofits that need the labor and need the support to have that much of an impact locally.”

The Tricentennial Commission hosted three community service days earlier this year, focused on the themes of infrastructure, education and commemorating San Antonio, respectively. Saturday’s theme is “sustainability,” and the Commission chose projects to represent that, Mayes said.

On Saturday, volunteers can help with seven projects, including cleaning graffiti between Marbach and Pinn roads, or planting and cleaning up Woodlawn Lake Park’s Centennial Garden. The garden started taking shape in 2016 but still has a ways to go, said Alejandro Soto, president of the Woodlawn Lake Community Association.

Soto said the Centennial Garden’s name stems from Woodlawn’s forthcoming 100th anniversary as a public park on Oct. 24. He felt “there was something missing at Woodlawn Lake Park,” so he decided to bring an environmental project to the area, he said.

“I toured the [San Antonio] Botanical Garden, saw what they had, and was aware of other natural habitats scattered around [the city],” so he decided to create a habitat featuring native plants that attract butterflies and birds at Woodlawn.

“We’ve been certified as a monarch butterfly waystation,” he said. “We’ve had turtles lay eggs in our gardens, lots of little birds, frogs. It gives a natural setting to the park – what would have existed if man hadn’t interfered.”

Because the plants in the garden are native to the area, the habitat should be able to sustain itself, Soto added.

San Antonio Threads provides new clothes, shoes, and toiletries to homeless or foster youth aged 12 to 21. CEO and founder Cathy Hamilton said this year, the nonprofit has already served more than 1,000 teens.

Saturday’s volunteers will be sprucing up the front porch entrance of the headquarters San Antonio Threads and Christian Assistance Ministry (CAM) share.

“We’re just excited to be part of the Tricentennial,” Hamilton said. “I think it’s great to get everyone involved together. We live in a great community where people can serve and volunteer.”

Hamilton said she hoped Saturday’s volunteering would help extend the lifespan of CAM and San Antonio Threads, allowing both organizations to keep giving back to the community in the future.

“CAM has been here serving families in need for over 40 years, and I hope we can help continue that,” she said. “This old building has been here serving the community for years, so I’m hoping by us helping to improve it, all of us can continue to serve everybody in the community.”

As of Tuesday, 550 people had signed up to volunteer. For those who can’t make it Saturday, there are still plenty of opportunities to volunteer in the future, Mayes said.

“We are participating in DisabilitySA’s upcoming parade and we need volunteers for that,” she said. “Animal Care Services has opportunities as well. There are lots of ways for people to volunteer if they can’t make it this weekend.”

To volunteer, sign up here by Thursday at 5 p.m. to get a commemorative T-shirt, breakfast from Whataburger, and UTSA football game tickets. If you don’t sign up by then, you’re still welcome to volunteer – you just won’t get the swag.

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Jackie Wang

Jackie Wang covered local government for the San Antonio Report.