PART 2 OF 2 PARTS
This is the second part in a series about Escondido Shines and its founder Vaughn North, who came to Escondido a few years ago with an idea for building up the hometown pride of the city. He helped to spark interest in an organization that covers four broad categories (this can all be found on their website: http:// www.escondidoshines.org): Youth, Beautification, “Family” Relationships, and Gratitude which are tied to the seasons:
Last week we talked about some of the upcoming Escondido Shines-related events, such as this Saturday’s Downtown Business Association’s Tamale Festival. Others
April 22, Escondido Shines Clean Up Day
May 27, Memorial Weekend Band Concert
July/August Patio Playhouse Musical at Kit Carson Park
We wrote about the meeting between Alex MacLachlan of the Downtown Business Association and how North suggested to him. “Why not let us help you promote the Tamale Festival?”
That first tamale festival in 2015 was so successful that they ran out of tamales! Note: MacLachlan assures the Times-Advocate that won’t be an issue this year.
Now we continue the story:
Because of the conflicting dates, they changed the approach so that October and November are the fall period to “serve and celebrate.” This runs from the Grape Day festival the first Saturday in October through the Tamale Festival the first Saturday in November. This is the period to “serve and celebrate” under the fall theme.
“We encourage service projects to prepare for the holidays, between these two festivals,” North said. “This year, there were four Shine projects sponsored by the Rotary club of Escondido, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter- Day Saints, and the Calvin Christian school, inviting the general public to participate. Independent projects were also run by Emmanuel faith and The Church at Rancho Bernardo.”
Speaking of the Church at Rancho Bernardo, North makes a special point of praising that church for doing service in a park that’s not part of their back yard. “They are making a gift to Escondido to come up here, clean and then afterwards have a barbecue,” he said.
Probably North’s biggest brain storm involving Shine was to not have just one, or two, or three events, or even limiting the number of events, but give the Shine imprimatur to as many events as possible.
“I didn’t have a lot of people line up and say, ‘We want to help!’ so we came up with the idea of putting out the word to ‘partner’ other events with bags, pins and brochures,” North recalls.
He has assumed the role of coordinator. “I have people who help me, but we don’t have the responsibility of actually putting on the event.”
He remembers Supt. Luis A. Ibarra telling him, “Why wouldn’t anyone be happy to adopt the name?”
“Shine is not a group or organization,” says North. “It is an expression of how we feel. As an example: the school district was asked to hand out Shine bags and hold school projects under the Shine banner.”
Dr. Ibarra, superintendent of the Escondido Union School District, said that the district “is proud to be a part of Escondido Shines! As a school district we are committed in providing a quality education for all students. When we focus on what makes Escondido Shine, it is our students and families. That is why we have assisted in partnering with the various promotional activities such as the Day of Service. Most recently we changed our Student Champion Awards to our students Who Make Escondido Shine! Throughout the year, we honor several students from two schools at a board meeting and highlight their school.”
“The schools came on board with both feet!” said North happily. “Plus all of the high schools and the LDS church.”
North is modest about his own contribution to an effort that wouldn’t have happened without him. “I’m an organization guy,” he says. “I developed the idea and tailored it to Escondido— and the people in Escondido were ready for it.”
He met with organizations such as the local high school ASBs: “They all got behind it.”
One school renamed their “Champion Program” the “Shines Champion Program.” And the list goes on and on. “When you do something like that, it lifts the whole community,” says North. Children, being naturally idealistic,get very enthusiastic about wearing the yellow wrist bands they are awarded when they show up to work, as well as the Escondido Shines buttons, which are only awarded to those who work.
“Some of those kids are still wearing their yellow wrist bands a year later,” says North. Many hang onto their Shine bags to use over and over.
North emphasizes that the bags are not trash bags, but should be used in community service. The bags may remind you have a Dr. Bronner’s soap bottle in that they are emblazoned with a multitude of admonitions and exhortations to do good, such as “Serve, Salute and Celebrate.” “The bag is meant to be reused,” said North.
North told the Times-Advocate, “From my perspective, the most important objective of Escondido Shines is to generate an increased sense of (1) individual accountability regarding personal pride in the appearance of our community and especially the parks, and (2) an ongoing willingness to serve others.
“As to the first objective, it may be that picking up trash is menial, but the cleanliness of our streets and parks really makes a difference on our attitude and sense of community pride. On the second point, everyone is so busy nowadays that it’s hard to give time to voluntarily serve. It’s so easy to put it off, despite seeing the needs of others.”
When people what they can do to help, North tells them, “You can play a part in building community pride by identifying a need. Is there trash along the fence, clutter in an alley, overgrown foliage in the neighborhood, a fenced repair etc.?
“Organize your own service project. Act on your own or recruit a team. The Rotary Clubs of Escondido are providing free promotional materials under the name Escondido Shines to add a visible declaration of community spirit to your efforts. ”If your group already performs service activities let us help with yellow ‘Shine’ bags, banners, volunteer pins etc. By promoting your event on Escondido shines.org you will encourage others to do the same and spread the word that beginning “Escondido shines.”
North encourages people to find ways to “give a little time regularly in meeting the needs of others in service. It is so easy to register on JustServe.org or other volunteer websites and receive email notifications on service needs in Escondido.”
Escondido Shines relies on Just- Serve.org to get volunteers for our projects. This is a relatively new site. On it you will see many important service opportunities available beyond Escondido Shines. Many of these are important in serving special needs, such as the Interfaith Services and other charitable activities.
“We know there is a lot of service work done by various clubs and organizations in Escondido,” says North. “I have not found them to be overly anxious to combine Escondido Shines with their ongoing activities. However, there are many more people in Escondido that are not involved in clubs, nor in service activities. The JustServe.org website is an ideal tool to invite these ‘home bodies’ to get out and serve.
“I invite you to look at the ‘success’ stories on the JustServe.org website and get a feel for this service. As you know, our central message is SERVE, SALUTE AND CELEBRATE.” In that context, a major goal of Escondido Shines is to encourage this 80% of the community that isn’t inclined to be especially service minded to MAKE TIME to share in this experience.”
North invites everyone to join the community spirit initiative in at least one service event during the year. There are many varieties of community service from Interfaith Services to local church charities needing help with food and clothing distribution. The ultimate success of Escondido Shines will be measured by a growing pride in our community. When people role up their sleeves and actually participate with others in a service project. They will FEEL pride in the community and an inner satisfaction that leads to the attitude of SERVE, SALUTE, CELEBRATE.”
In February, in recognition of his efforts, North was recognized with the Community Service award.
Olga Diaz wishes it had been her who nominated him. “I did not submit the nomination form but I should have thought of it!” she said.