Another ‘Beautiful’ Weekend in the South Bay Thanks to Volunteers


After a weekend of painting, sawing, hammering, raking, weeding, cleaning, and much, much more, the South Bay is shining just a little brighter this week, thanks to the work of an estimated 3,500 volunteers working through the nonprofit group, Beautiful Day.

Many volunteers worked multiple shifts from Friday to Saturday, helping to fill up to 4,600 positions at 26 sites from Milpitas to Morgan Hill, with most of the work centered in San Jose. Last year the event attracted approximately 2,400 volunteers.

Beautiful Day is a faith-based nonprofit that came out of Westgate Church in San Jose in 2004. The group partners with the City of San Jose, secular nonprofits, businesses and other churches to organize a massive regional service event each spring, as well as a smaller event in the fall, along with other projects.

This spring’s event actually got started a week earlier, when volunteers helped prepare some sites for the larger number of volunteers to come. One shift of volunteers worked Wednesday at Full Circle Farm in Sunnyvale.

From work that required a lot of elbow grease, to more personal jobs working with senior citizens, disabled youth and homeless people, Beautiful Day volunteers of all ages, backgrounds, and beliefs, gave of themselves all week.


On Saturday morning at Biebrach Park in the Gardner Neighborhood of San Jose, work kicked off with an Aztec ceremony to bless the volunteers who were set to bring back to life a beloved mural of an Aztec calendar on the back of a handball court. Aztec dancer Yacachitoltic, translated from the Nahuatl language as “Hawk Face”—he’s also known as Jaime Bello—along with four others, performed “The Blessing of the Tonalmachiotl”, or “Blessing of the Stone of the Aztec Sun”.

Gardner Advisory Council President Rudy Martinez added a Christian prayer to the proceedings, and soon after volunteers began bringing the mural back to life with paint. The original mural, created in 1995 with spray paint, was badly faded. Martinez said the neighborhood wanted to update the mural for the last few years, but lacked the funding.

“I think the mural is going to bring a lot of peace to the neighborhood,” said 18-year-old Jacob Palomares-Mason, a native of the Gardner Neighborhood who participated in the ceremony. His Nahuatl name is Teoxiuh, or “Precious Rock”.

At nine other sites around the Gardner Neighborhood, volunteers helped homeowners and the local school with renovation and clean-up projects. Just a few miles away in the Burbank Neighborhood more volunteers worked at seven sites.

Rosemary Steenhausen of San Jose was busily priming houses in Burbank on Saturday. She first heard about Beautiful Day last fall, when a story appeared in the Mercury News about the group’s effort to pick up trash along area freeways.

“I saw it in the paper and I said, ‘I need to do that,'” she explained. It turned out she didn’t get to volunteer in the fall, but she made sure she turned out this spring. Her travel schedule keeps her from being able to volunteer for long-term assignments, so the one-off nature of the Beautiful Day events is an ideal fit for her, she said.

Creek Clean-up

More than 200 volunteers showed up at a site off of Ridder Park Way in San Jose on Saturday morning to pick up trash along Coyote Creek, where numerous homeless encampments exist. More came in the afternoon, and on Sunday morning.

Workers filled hundreds of bags with trash, and pulled items like rusty bikes, children’s toys and other large objects out of the weeds. At lunchtime a caterer served up Mexican food to not only hungry volunteers, but also many of the homeless residents.

A School Transformed

At the same time over in Santa Clara, more than 300 volunteers turned out to spruce up Pomeroy Elementary School. The campus was buzzing with workers who cleaned up the school’s community garden and planter boxes, repainted murals, painted the staff room, and fixed up other areas.

Bright posters created by children were hung all over the campus thanking the volunteers for their service.

Principal Tricia Ringel said she was overwhelmed by what she was witnessing that morning.

“When I came on campus this morning I started crying,” Ringel said. She was moved by the idea of “complete strangers” helping the school. “It grows our Pomeroy community a little larger.”

Volunteer Maggie Anderson, while weeding a planter box filled with California Poppies, said she could have been gardening in her own backyard that weekend, but “there’s something special about doing something for someone else.”

More stories and photos to follow this week. For past stories about Beautiful Day, see our Beautiful Day Page.

Thanks to freelance reporter Crystal Tai for photos taken at the Beautiful Day carnival and dance on Friday, April 27.




  1. […] 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 […]

  2. […] Beautiful Day “Mini-Me” Open to Volunteers on Nov. 16 and 17 November 12, 2012 By Pam Marino Leave a Comment The nonprofit group Beautiful Day is looking for volunteers the weekend of Nov. 17, for the autumn “mini” version of its massive springtime service event in San Jose. […]

  3. […] one week in April to fix up schools, homes, centers, parks, neighborhoods, and other public spaces. Last year an estimated 3,500 people volunteered during Beautiful Day week; 2,400 volunteered the year […]