Gina Hawkins only got five hours of sleep recently before awakening to gather supplies for a day dedicated to repainting the exterior of Archer City Hall.
But she wasn’t complaining.
“It’s a passion, it’s not a job,” Hawkins said.
Hawkins is the executive director of Keep Alachua County Beautiful (KACB), a non-profit organization which aims to engage citizens in small tasks to help improve their community, she said.
“An Archer resident and former city commissioner contacted me about giving city hall a facelift,” Hawkins said of the motives behind the improvement. “They are hiring a new city manager and thought this would give a good draw.”
Hawkins, who has been with KACB since 1991, helped establish the organization after working for the city of Gainesville and has been involved with serving since her days as a Girl Scout, she said.
“I was also reinforced by my high school principal,” she said. “He kept saying, ‘you have to give back to this community,’ and that really stuck. I ended up studying conservation.”
Cleaning services are extended to Alachua county and the cities that surround Gainesville, Hawkins said.
The volunteers for the Archer City Hall facelift include members of the UF Fencing Club and three of the KACB staff members, but KACB gets volunteers from service-oriented organizations throughout UF and the county.
In addition to volunteers, KACB staff includes two half-time employees and one full-time graffiti specialist, Hawkins said.
Doug Bernal, 28, returned to Gainesville after leaving the military and wanted to give back to his hometown. He found an outlet in the half-time employment offered by KACB, he said.
Unable to volunteer in a direct community sense with the Army, Bernal enjoys being able to see his work and contribute to his surroundings directly, he said.
“It’s really cool to see the before and after when you work on a project,” Bernal said.
All volunteers and potential volunteers are encouraged to stop by the KACB office during business hours, but Hawkins is always willing to meet volunteers any time, she said.