Love Your City and Make It a Better Place to Live
By Jacqui D. Sinarle
Do you love your city? You can show it by participating in Love Modesto or another Love Our Cities event this spring!
“Healthy communities need everyone to get involved,” observed Jeff Pishney, Executive Director of Love Modesto and Love Our Cities. “We’re trying to make a difference in our cities and do good, bring hope, inspire people to give back, and get as many people as possible involved to help our communities be the best they can be. Our philosophy is: If you love our town and I love our town, let’s work at it together!”
Ten years ago, Pishney created Love Modesto to make it easier for people to volunteer in the community by asking them for a few hours of their time, one day a year.
“We planned the first Love Modesto with eight projects,” he recalled. “We were hoping for 100 people and 1,200 people showed up! In 2016, more than 5,000 people volunteered to work on over 100 projects.”
This year, Love Modesto begins at 8 a.m. on Apr. 8 with music, food, giveaways, and a rally in front of the Gallo Center. Participants will work on projects that extend beyond neighborhood cleanup, from offering food to the hungry to visiting people in convalescent homes, donating blood, building with Habitat for Humanity, and working in city parks and schools (sign up prior to the event at www.lovemodesto.com).
“We think that everyone has something to contribute so we provide opportunities for people of all ages, abilities and skills to become involved,” Pishney said. “We even have projects that little kids and young families can work on, like decorating Meals on Wheels placemats and making encouragement cards for veterans.”
While the event is presented one day a year, Love Modesto is a year-around effort.
“We surveyed participants six months after last year’s event and 80 percent said they have continued to volunteer, with 30 percent of them volunteering with the organizations they helped on the event day,” Pishney reported. “Many also make monetary contributions.”
The success of Love Modesto led to the creation of the nonprofit love our cities and inspired 60 additional events in communities across California and beyond, including Ceres, Riverbank, Escalon, Turlock, Oakdale, Patterson, Waterford, Salida, Empire, Denair, and Hughson.
“Love Hughson began as a small local initiative five years ago,” observed Raul L. Mendez, Hughson city manager. “Through the collaboration of local government agencies, schools, businesses, nonprofits, churches, youth sports groups, residents, and others, participation has grown from a few dozen individuals to a few hundred.”
This year’s Love Hughson will be presented on Apr. 8 from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m.
“Residents like Melanie Fisher and her family have played key roles in planning Love Hughson,” Mendez said, “and donations from local sponsors provide participants with breakfast and lunch, t-shirts, supplies and equipment.”
Even if you’re not currently in love with your city, you can make a difference by joining fellow residents who are dedicated to improving it.
“Since the beginning we’ve counted more than 30,000 volunteers for Love Modesto,” Pishney said. “Combined participation in all the different Love Our Cities has totaled 90,000 volunteers who have logged 350,000 volunteer hours that add up to $7.4 million dollars of service—and that’s just for one-day volunteer projects. Working together, we’re making a tremendous impact!”
“It’s up to us,” Pishney concluded. “If we all get involved in our schools and nonprofits, our cities are going to be great. We all have our own challenges in life. It takes energy to focus on something else, but when you’re helping others you feel like a million bucks. That kind of goodwill is contagious and we all need more of it.”
For information about Love Modesto and links to other love your city websites, visit lovemodesto.com.