West King Street is Getting a Facelift Thanks to Take Pride in the West Side


Up and down West King Street Take Pride in the West Side signs appear in front of newly-painted homes and churches, and it is clear that something good is going on in West Augustine.

Every few months, the local non-profit organization Take Pride in the West Side, organized by Pastor Laverne March and the Living Waters Ministries church bring in volunteers from the community and from outside of the community to help beautify homes on the west side. 

"We work on four at a time," says Pastor March, a West Augustine native, "and this is probably our 3rd sweep, so we'll probably have 8 houses done."

Pastor Laverne March and her husband Elder Richard March at the Take Pride in the West Side Project
Pastor Laverne March from Living Waters Ministries in St. Augustine and her husband Elder Richard March at the Take Pride in the West Side Project in West Augustine, Florida.

The organization was started in 2021, when Pastor Laverne March and her husband Elder Richard March decided to make a difference in the community by painting one house at a time, but the beautification project has since expanded to include much more than painting. The organization has had great success and collaborates with several community groups including Grace United Methodist Church and Compassionate St. Augustine.

Wesr Augustine homeowner Sam Pope receives help from Take Pride in the West Side
Homeowner Sam Pope is thankful for the volunteers working on his home.

Sam Pope is the owner of one of the West King Street homes getting a facelift by the volunteers with Take Pride in the West Side. This is the third time that the organization is working on his house, where the siding has been replaced and painted. "Now they're gonna do the roof," Pope says, the gratitude shining through his words about the burden being lifted off his shoulders. "I feel good, I thank God. Everybody did a good job, it's a blessing." 

A West King Street home in St. Augustine before the beautification project from Take Pride in the West Side
A West King Street home in St. Augustine before the beautification project. (Photo courtesy of Take Pride in the West Side)

A West King Street home in St. Augustine during the beautification project from Take Pride in the West Side
A West King Street home in St. Augustine during the beautification project from Take Pride in the West Side 

The group brings in people in advance of the actual beautification events, and Pope had been prepping his garden before the Saturday event. "They're working on the yard today," he says, "It's amazing, it's wonderful. It is good to have neighbors to come out and do things like this."

Lancer Jones and Pastor David Williamson from Grace United Methodist Church a painting a home during the Take Pride in the West Side project.
Lancer Jones and Pastor David Williamson from Grace United Methodist Church  painting a home during the Take Pride in the West Side project.

Lancer Jones and Pastor David Williamson from Grace United Methodist Church were finishing up the painting at the side of Pope's house. "I just want to help build beautiful community," says Pastor Williamson. "I want to build community across cultural differences, because the world is more beautiful that way."

Ben Evans from Grace United Methodist Church taking part in the Take Pride in the West Side project in West Augustine Florida
Ben Evans from Grace United Methodist Church taking part in the Take Pride in the West Side project.

Ben Evans from Grace United Methodist Church has personally worked on three houses. "I've been a part of this crew ever since they started about a year and a half ago." He is excited about seeing the changes at Pope's house. "I have a little vignette in my mind about how this house looked before we started, and it is a really good feeling," he says. "I've always been into social justice, but one of my big passions now is attempting racial equality. I am on the Community Conversations group on Tuesdays, which Pastor David runs, and it is all about cross cultural communication and getting to make more friends [from other cultures and across racial lines]. It has even changed my opinion. I see how important and how good Church is here, and what a sense of community."

Ruth Hope from Compassionate Women of St. Augustine at a Take Pride in the West Side event
Ruth Hope from Compassionate Women of St. Augustine.


Ruth Hope is with Compassionate Women of St. Augustine, another organization that has become very involved in the beautification projects. "I am out here today to help improve the quality of life for people on West King by making it more beautiful. People in West King have been neglected, and they need the help."

Joanne Hawkins from Living Waters Ministries at the West King beautification project
Joanne Hawkins from Living Waters Ministries at the West King beautification project.

Joanne "Joan" Hawkins is a part of the Living Waters Ministries church, she was raised in West Augustine and used to babysit Pastor Laverne March, when she was a baby.

"It's good, it's excellent," Hawkins says, when asked how it makes her feel to see so many people come to help. "We're asking everybody, we're asking churches. This is where we stay at, and we all need to get involved."

Hawkins is thrilled to see the transformation at the Pope house. "Oh, it's gorgeous. We did this house, and we did the church," she says pointing at Church of God by Faith behind her. "It is a blessing with all of these volunteers. You have to help where you stay at. I was raised here, and I walked this street many times going to school."

Church of God by Faith

Kylie Jones and Janie Putnam are nursing students from Florida State College at Jacksonville, and as a part of their program they are required to do community service. 

"This is really cool," says Putnam. "I love something like this, it is so important to help other people in the community, and I want to start involving my kids in projects like this."

FSCJ nursing Students Kylie Jones and Janie Putnam volunteeringvwith the Take Pride in the West Side project
FSCJ nursing Students Kylie Jones and Janie Putnam volunteering with the Take Pride in the West Side project .

"The end game is for the resident to feel that they can do it," says Pastor March in a video created to bring attention to the Take Pride in the West Side mission. For "the residents to have hope and for the residents to see what we are doing and that it catches on with them, and they say I can do this to my place." 

Take Pride in the West Side relies on volunteers and donations from the community and local businesses.

To support the Take Pride in the West Side project, follow the organization on Facebook to stay up to date on their progress and upcoming volunteer events,  and check out the Take Pride in the West Side website, where you can learn about how you can help,  volunteer or donate to the mission. 

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