The sound of lawnmowers and weed whackers echoed through the Panama City Wednesday as a team of volunteers made their way to area. Their goal - to clean up several homes in the Glenwood Community
"When I go off and come in now, I don't know whether I'll stop here or not...I don't know if I'll be able to recognize it," resident Sally Benton said.
For Benton, the transformation is dramatic. Her house was one of 5 houses to get a facelift Wednesday thanks to Synergy, a youth camp and missions retreat taking place in Bay County. 4 groups from Alabama and Tennessee made their way to Panama City for the cleanup.
"We've been doing this four years in a row, and it's a blessing to be here to serve the people of Panama City," said Micah Harbison, founder of the Synergy Project.
The cleanup is all apart of an ongoing initiative led by Panama City Commissioner Kenneth Brown, who made cleaning up the Glenwood area a campaign promise.
"They're here visiting, and I'm very proud that they want to come in and work the community," commissioner Brown said.
Whether they were donating their time from Dothan, or pitching in from the Volunteer state, armed with shovels, rakes, lawnmowers, and just their bare hands, they worked hard under the blazing Panhandle sun.
"We're all out here helping anybody, no matter what community we come to or what we're doing," said Carmen Hutchins, a volunteer from Tennessee.
After taking a look at her now cleaner yard, Ms. Benton could not hold back her appreciation for her landscapers.
"Just can't give them enough praise," Ms. Benton said. "For young people to do a job like that it's wonderful"
As for the volunteers, even though the lifting was tough and the mowing was rough, there's no doubt that this is where they want to be.
"In my life, I realized you're never happier than when you're serving others," volunteer Ronny Cox said. "That's actually one of the happiest times in your life that you'll ever have."
Community leaders say they can't show enough appreciation for the volunteers, but they also hope this will inspire people in the neighborhood to get up and start making change.
"We appreciate that as a start to get us started, but in the future we get our kids together, we can do programs like this and take care of our own," said Illustrious Potentate Edward Stewart of the Safia 188 Shriners.
If you want to get involved with the cleanup, you're encouraged to call Toni Shamplain with the Community Redevelopment Agency at 896-7745.