Bellview Cemetery Project teaches Probation's youth to give back
Cemeteries are not just a place to show respect to loved ones passed, but a place of history. So how do we show our appreciation? By cleaning them up. For five consecutive weekends in December and part of January, participants in the Probation Department’s Juvenile Work Project spent their weekends cleaning, planting and refurbishing the Bellview Cemetery.
With graves dating back to 1860, the aged cemetery, located off of Elder Creek Road needed care and restoration. The County pulled together multiple departments, including Regional Parks, Coroner, Technology, and Probation’s Juvenile Work Project to do the cleanup and restoration and the Cemetery Advisory Committee organized the event.
“It was a collaborative effort not just to refurbish, but to also bring a sense of reverence back to the area,” said Coleen Kincheloe, Supervising Probation Officer. “Any time we, as probation officers, have to assist a child in viewing things differently—to feel empathy and give back—that is a huge success. Having these kids work on the cemetery was a unique opportunity for us and them.”
Many projects that the program youth work on are focused around landscaping or cleaning parks and roadsides. This one differed in nature. “It was nice to be involved in a project where we know it will last and be appreciated,” said Mark Brown, Supervising Probation Officer. “We all left an impact on the area… one that was noticed by families of loved ones there.”
Officer Brown and Probation Assistant Mark Magtoto worked alongside the youths, pulling weeds, removing old tree stumps, pruning bushes and spreading more than 100 cubic yards of river rock. The youths seemed to sense the history and showed respect for their surroundings. They took careful measures to never step on headstones and make sure they were cleaned properly. Some even requested to be involved in projects like this in the future.
Each participant involved in the Juvenile Work Project received $40 for a day’s work. The money went directly into a restitution fund, teaching the youths accountability for their actions.
Writer: Kaitlin Bane, Communication and Media Intern