Mural Brings New Life to Neighborhood

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With each deliberate stroke of their color-laden paintbrushes, volunteers recently brought new life to a beloved landmark in the Gardner Neighborhood of San Jose, and in the process, brought the possibility of new life to the neighborhood itself.

Up until late April, that landmark was a faded spray paint mural of an Aztec calendar on the back of an old cement handball court in Biebrach Park. A young man from the neighborhood, Antonio Torres, created the mural in 1995 as a testament to the heritage of many of Gardner’s Hispanic residents.

The new Aztec calendar mural is now bursting with color, thanks to the work of more than 25 volunteers who worked through the annual Beautiful Day spring service event, held primarily over the weekend of April 28 and 29. An estimated 3,500 volunteers worked at 26 South Bay sites during the event for the faith-based nonprofit by the same name.

Reviving the mural was a dream of the Gardner Advisory Board for nearly three years, but leaders said a lack of funding kept the project on the back burner. When Beautiful Day organizers showed up with plans to revive the mural using donated materials and labor, it was an answer to prayer, said board president Rudy Martinez. [Read more…]

Still Time to Volunteer For Valley’s Largest Service Event

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Sign ups are strong for this weekend’s Beautiful Day service event, but there are still openings for last minute volunteers who want to join Jim Buchanan of Beautiful Day costructs scaffolding.in on all the community beautifying action.

At 26 sites around Santa Clara County, project leaders are busy with last-minute preparations before more between 4,000 and 6,000 volunteers show up for various shifts through Sunday.

Project leaders Jim Buchanan and Bob Froese on Thursday were hard at work constructing scaffolding on the back of a handball court at Biebrach Park in the Gardner Neighborhood, where volunteers will repaint an older mural of an Aztec calendar that is much beloved by residents.

The two men are overseeing refurbishing projects all over the Gardener and Burbank neighborhoods on Saturday and Sunday. They said sign ups are strong so far, and they’re expecting last-minute sign ups, as well as people who simply show up.

Other Beautiful Day projects in need of volunteers include a school beautification event at Britton Middle School in Morgan Hill, sprucing up different elementary schools in San Jose, and many others dotted around San Jose. Complete information and registration forms are available on the Beautiful Day website. [Read more…]

Beautiful Day Dawning: Group Calls Out to Volunteers for April Service Week

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Beautiful Day, San Jose’s largest annual volunteer service event, is back next month with ambitious plans to serve all 10 districts of the city, plus a nonprofit farm in Sunnyvale, and miles of the area’s freeways.

With the theme of “Serving Our Community is How We Roll”, the organization is putting out a call for thousands of volunteers to take action between April 21 and 29. Most of the projects are taking place the weekend of April 28-29. The Beautiful Day website includes information on each project and an easy online registration form for those interested.

From fixing houses, to rehabilitating school campuses, to cleaning creeks and putting on a carnival and dance for special needs students, there are numerous opportunities to serve. Many of the projects are family friendly.

The faith-based group collaborates with local governments, nonprofits, churches, and businesses to pull off the large number of projects concentrated in one week. Since 2004 the event has grown from smaller clean-up and fix-up projects to the massive operation it is today. Beautiful Day organizers estimate that approximately 2,400 volunteers participated in last spring’s one-week event—and they may double that this April. [Read more…]

Beautiful Day: Retired Cops Out to Change Lives in Alviso Find Their Own Lives Changed

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Retired police officers Bob Froese and Jim Buchanan once looked upon the small low-income San Jose area of Alviso with hardened cops’

Jim Buchanan (left) and Bob Froese

eyes: a place with a few rough characters, and all the social ills that come with being a neighborhood of people living on the margins of society.

But recently, when the two found themselves leading possibly one of the largest community service projects ever in Alviso, their hearts melted and they began to see the neighborhood with softer eyes.

“After our experience here we have a passion for the people of Alviso,” Froese said. He said the stereotypes he once held for the community have completely disappeared. “Our opinions have been changed 180 degrees. We have a deep love and affection for the people now.”

With all the precision of a major police operation, the two marshaled the forces of 600 volunteers last weekend for the “Awaken Alviso” project, one of 17 projects worked on May 16-22 by a San Jose coalition of churches, nonprofits, businesses and governmental agencies called Beautiful Day. [Read more…]