Escondido Shines, whose motto is “serve, salute, celebrate” is coordinating local efforts to once more be part of the countywide effort known as the Creek to Bay Cleanup on April 27.
The effort has the strong endorsement of Mayor Paul McNamara, who said in a statement: “As a community, the more aware we are of needs, the more likely we are to want to help. I invite everyone to identify people and places where service is needed and then respond as part of Escondido Shines Service Day. This IS OUR home.”
Vaughn North, founder of Escondido Smiles, has been busy distributing flyers on this year’s events through the public schools.
North commented, “I have also encouraged them to promote individual projects, as well as to support the four park projects through registration at creektobay.org.”
The goal is to circulate registration forms from Creek To Bay among Escondido Shines volunteers to have them preregister before Saturday, April 27.
North has also placed forms in the Escondido Public Library and with Katherine Zimmer at VisitEscondido.org for social media distribution.
The Times-Advocate asked some of the organizers of the event to tell about their past experiences and why they take part in this effort.
Jenny Harkleroad heard about the Escondido Shines service project at church several years ago and wanted to join in beautifying her city. “I’ve enjoyed doing the Escondido Shines service project each year with my family and church friends and community,” she told the Times-Advocate. “It’s quite amazing how much we can get done with so many hands. One of my favorite memories was a legally blind lady from our church who signed up to pick up trash at Felicita park.
“She could not see the trash but wanted to pick it up so we’d walk together and I’d put my tennis shoe right next to the trash and she’d feel around my shoe until she found the trash. So sweet that she wanted to help and did. A ‘stinky’ memory I had was removing bricks from around the fountain at city hall and cleaning out the slim! It was smelly but memorable and the kids LOVED it! It’s so great to work together making our city a better place.”
Melissa Navarrete described what her job will be during the clean-up. “I have been asked to be the lead volunteer or “site captain” for the Mountain View Park site. My role is to spread the word and encourage people to come as well as give assignments on the day of the event. The majority of our volunteers will be coming from my church group, although everyone is welcome and encouraged to participate. I belong to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints and our group is the Bear Valley Ward. Our congregation lives towards the east end of town. Our main project here is to paint the old house on the property. We will also be spreading wood chips, planting, weeding, and trash pick-up.”
Navarette was asked by Vaughn of Escondido Shines a few years ago to be site captain and has participated ever since. “I like to be involved in my community and now that I only have one very independent child at home, I have more free time. I also like to do this because it is for the entire family,” she said. “My husband, our son, and my parents all volunteer alongside me.”
Navarette was born and raised in San Diego County, 17 of those years in Escondido. “I’ve raised 4 sons, three of whom graduated from Escondido High Schools with one more on his way to do so too. I take pride in the community we live in and always give back where and when I can. I love the philosophy of Escondido Shines because I feel that not only is it a representation of how our community looks, but how we feel about our community. If we want a better city, it’s up to us to make that happen.”
Vaughn North describes Escondido Shines, as “a community initiative focused on bringing members of the community to a common ‘table’ where we each add our resources in service to unite and improve our community. This group of people is a composite of our community in a real sense and is demonstrating a willingness to pull together in a common day of service.”
He gave credit to the following people:
Kent Smith—gives service year round in Escondido Shines events, as well as donating root beer floats as a fundraiser for scouts and other service activities within single adult community.
Melissa Navarrete—active for four years in Escondido Shines; organized Escondido’s Got Talent in 2017 and 18, along with numerous service projects in the community.
Carlos de La Cruz—active member of Hispanic community in church work and in serving members of the single adult community.
Barry Baker—local real estate businessman active in Rotary, church, scouting, and Escondido Shines; organized the Felicita service project for April 2018, and heads the “Just Serve” effort in Escondido.
Jenny Harkleroad—local business professional and social media specialist, active in annual Bethlehem Walk event and other service activities.
Nancy Yturralde—community scout leader for years, promoting scouting in the Hispanic community and member of the CAFE service organization.
Carlos Yturralde—Active in promoting genealogy research among those of Mexican heritage and service in Escondido.
Bill Wolfe—Deputy City Manager over service activities and community support in Escondido.
Katherine Zimmer—manages the VisitEscondido.org community events website and goodwill activities for the city.
CreektoBay.org—service activity by I Love a Clean San Diego and Partner with Escondido Shines in the annual clean-up project of April Earth Day celebration.
Andrew Kirwin—Owner of CBS Marketing and President Elect of Rotary Club of Escondido, providing media support to Escondido Shines as a volunteer.
Paul McNamara—Mayor of Escondido and President of Rotary Club, co-founder of Escondido Shines initiative in 2015.