For my community service project this summer, I touched up paint on headstones for willing individuals in my community. I serviced seven cemeteries in surrounding areas. I first got the idea while painting my grandmother’s headstone after it had been visibly worn for many months. I knew that my parents did not have the time or patience to sit at the cemetery and complete the job, so I thought there were most likely more people in my community with the same problem. I started by making a post on Facebook offering my services to paint headstones and I encouraged people to share the post. I got an overwhelmingly large response, which brought me tremendous joy! I made a list of all the names under each cemetery to stay organized. My list consisted of approximately 40 headstones. Each headstone, depending on the size and detail, can take anywhere from two to six hours. It was challenging to maintain focus for such a long time, especially in this summer heat. It is very time consuming and I have a lot of headstones to complete even after my internship is over. This project was extremely touching, as it made me realize just how many people are physically unable to go do those things themselves. I received comments from friends like “That’s just creepy” or “Cemeteries are weird. I don’t know how you do it.” Even though they have a bad reputation, cemeteries preserve the people we love. Many of those people had a good impact on the community and each one has someone that loves them. Each one deserves to be honored and remembered through a beautiful and readable headstone. I put the same amount of love and effort into each headstone as I did my grandmother’s. I also saw many homemade headstones and many, many mourning relatives. This really made me appreciate what I have more. I received so much love and so much appreciation from the family members that reached out for my services. It warms my heart to have the opportunity to serve the community that I love and the place I call home.
-Maura Smith, Wiley, CO