The Push is On: 2,000 Habitat Volunteers Needed for Carter Work Project This Fall

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Mike Rico of Americorps and Habitat for Humanity East Bay/Silicon Valley readies a volunteer project.

Former President Jimmy Carter could use some help on an important “To Do” list of community work projects in Oakland and San Jose this October, which is why the Habitat for Humanity East Bay/Silicon Valley staff is busy at the moment rounding up approximately 2,000 volunteers.

Carter, who will turn 89 on Oct. 1, and his wife Rosalynn, 85, are coming to Oakland on Sunday, Oct. 6, to kickoff Habitat’s Carter Work Project (CWP),an annual major service and fundraising event now in its 30th year. This is the first time a CWP has come to the San Francisco Bay Area.

After an opening ceremony in Oakland on Sunday, the Carters will work with volunteers on Monday at the nonprofit’s Brookfield Court Development in Oakland, and on Tuesday in the Dorsa-TOCKNA neighborhood of San Jose. They will then fly to projects in Denver, and finally New York City, where the first CWP took place in 1984. Work will continue on projects in the Bay Area through Friday, Oct. 11. [Read more…]

Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter Coming to Bay Area for Habitat Project

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president-jimmy-carter-rosalynn-carter-work-project-habitat-for-humanity-east-bay-silicon-valleyPresident Jimmy Carter and his wife Rosalynn are coming to the San Francisco Bay Area for two days in October as part of the 30th anniversary Carter Work Project (CWP) service event for Habitat for Humanity. It is the first time the annual project is happening in the region.

This year’s CWP runs from Sunday, Oct. 6, to Friday, Oct. 11, with building activities, community projects, and special events taking place in San Jose, Oakland, Denver, and New York. The Carters will start in the Bay Area on Sunday, and leave on Tuesday, Oct. 8, traveling east until they reach New York, the site of the first CWP in 1984. [Read more…]

La Mesa Verde Gardeners Growing Community

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Debbie Cullati Meza

Like a flourishing vine extending outward, Debbie Cullati Meza’s tender loving care for two raised beds full of delicious and healthy vegetables goes beyond her back yard into her surrounding San Jose neighborhood.

Meza, a.k.a. the “Urban Garden Diva”, is a volunteer for La Mesa Verde, an urban gardening program at Sacred Heart Community Services, located in the Washington-Alma area. When she signed up to plant and tend the beds in her own yard, she jumped in to help grow the program for the entire neighborhood.

She writes a blog at urbangardendiva.blogspot.com, chronicling her experience tending the beds in her yard, has a Facebook page, and helps La Mesa Verde Program Manager Malin Ramirez in numerous other ways.

“It’s been incredible,” Meza said.  “This gardening has been a really important way for me to reconnect with people and for healing…it’s therapeutic and satisfying, plus now I’ve connected with a bunch of people.”

On Spring Planting Day back in April, after Meza received all the materials to create her new garden, she volunteered herself and her husband and son to help with more deliveries. They dropped off supplies and met with 14 other families that same day.

After a successful season with her own beds, she was excited for Fall Planting Day on Saturday, Sept. 29. And just as she had in spring, Meza was busy volunteering again, this time in the kitchen at Sacred Heart’s headquarters making coffee for more than 100 people.

The festive event included planting demonstrations in English and Spanish, testimonials from participants, and a time for families to pick up seedlings of broccoli, lettuce, peas, and other cool season crops to take home to their backyard gardens. [Read more…]

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…]

A Beautiful Day in San Jose

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In the midst of the darkness of San Jose’s fiscal state of emergency as declared by Mayor Chuck Reed, a bright day dawned last week for more than a dozen neighborhoods and thousands of the city’s residents thanks to a coalition of public, private, nonprofit and faith-based interests.

Approximately 2,400 volunteers from the coalition Beautiful Day went to work from May 16-22 doing everything from donating blood to hosting a prom for disabled youth, to fixing up schools and dozens of homes throughout the city.
[Read more…]