WILMINGTON, N.C. — Applications have begun now for Work on Wilmington, a program started in 2006 that brings together 1,000 volunteers each year to help local nonprofits.

Ruth Ravitz-Smith was in the leadership program in 2018 and found herself as a project manager during Work on Wilmington. She loved it so much that she returned the following year. She says meeting the needs of nonprofits in the community did something special for her.

“I led a team of folks making sure that we got all of the project done in a four-hour period,” Ravitz-Smith said. “We had a lot to do, but we worked hard and rolled up our sleeves.”

She hopes the event can go on as planned in the spring of 2021 but says that even if the pandemic doesn't improve, it's still a great way to get outside and get active. The projects all are outdoors and in small groups. According to Ravitz-Smith, working together for a common cause is not just gratifying but might be just what the community needs right now.

“The one thing I always say when I get the 'woe is me's' about the pandemic or anything else in my life, I go volunteer, it makes me feel better,” Ravitz-Smith said.

Families, individuals, and organizations all turn out for Work on Wilmington to provide a thousand pairs of hands. The projects are basic enough to make sure that everyone can participate.

“We have over 1,000 volunteers every year,” Ravitz-Smith said. “Multiply that by the number of years we've been doing this program and you've got tens of thousands of people who have had their hands in the dirt as part of work on Wilmington.”

She hopes that others who come out to be part of the Work on Wilmington legacy experience the same kind of joy she finds when she pours back into the community.

“There is nothing better than being grateful for what you have and giving back to others to lift yourself and your community as a whole,” Ravitz-Smith adds.