LDS youth participate in Tule River Parkway project
Numerous children, youth and adults from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints participated in a community service project along the Tule River Parkway last Saturday morning.
“This community service project was planned by the Springville Ward because it was something we could get the children involved in that would get them outside and serve in the community while preventing the spread of the coronavirus,” said Catherine May, who serves as the Primary president. “We encouraged every participant to maintain a social distance from one another and required everyone to wear a mask.”
According to the churchofjesuschrist.org, children are encouraged to participate in service and activities with their families. Primary children, once they turn eight, regularly meet for Primary activities between two to four times a month and are fun, engaging activities that build children’s knowledge of the church, strengthen families and foster personal growth. The activities should be balanced among the four areas of growth — spiritual, social, physical and intellectual. The first Primary began in Farmington, Utah in 1878 and had about 224 children who attended. Now more than 140 years later, this organization has about one million children attending.
“The church started a new program in January 2020 and we were able to meet a few times before the pandemic hit,” May explains. “However, once March 2020 rolled around, we were unable to meet in person until March 2021, so this is our first in-person activity, which is great because it allows the children to get outside and serve within the community all while maintaining safety.”
When the community service project was in the beginning stages, May had asked Mimi Schuler, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latterday Saints Just Serve Specialist for the Porterville area, to post the event on the website justserve.org to get the word out about the project.
“Service has taken on a new look in the past thirteen months,” Schuler said. “When it comes to outreach and communication in efforts to relieve the suffering of the poor or beautifying our communities, justserve. org has it covered. The site posts a variety of service examples from community events, interfaith outreach and media interactions that encourage people of all ages and abilities to participate.
“Justserve.org has been instrumental with connecting faith groups who have more similarities than differences when it comes to Christian service and loving
one another. The free website has posted 114 projects in the South Tulare County area during the pandemic. I am continually on the hunt to learn what people are doing so I can add their project on justserve. org.”
Schuler also stated in a normal year, a large service project would take place in April bringing out more than 200 Latter-day Saints to work side-by-side. Over the years, projects have included beautifying parks and public landmarks in Tulare, Lindsay, Porterville and Exeter.
“These service projects reach the core of
our beliefs and embrace the two great commandments to love God and love our neighbor in ministering to their needs,” Schuler said. “This year we tried something new; gathering in small groups, as families, or individuals to meet the needs of people during the pandemic.”
At the Tule River Parkway, 30 volunteers spent about three hours laying down cardboard, moving and spreading wood chips to cover the cardboard, irrigating and planting a variety of plants.
block sunlight from reaching the weeds and weed seeds,” said Cathy Capone, president of the Tule River Parkway Association. “We use cardboard instead of wash cloth because cardboard is a biodegradable option. When needed additional layers can be installed over the old layer. Cardboard adds to the organic matter in the soil. The cardboard that we use would have gone to the dump.”
The children worked hard the entire time.
“I was pleased to see how the children were interested in adding to the gardens,” Capone said. “And giving the work enthusiasm and effort.”
Dawsen Clark, 8, said he knows service is important because it helps the community and it makes areas look nicer.
“I liked spreading the wood chips around,” Clark said. “And pulling weeds was fun because I was talking.”
Nathan Bailey, 8, and his brother Micah Bailey, 10, both said it was fun to see their friends and help the community.
“I enjoyed spreading the wood chips and helping plant flowers,” Micah Bailey said. “I enjoyed this a lot.”
According to Donnie Moore, Parks and Leisure Services Director for the City of Porterville, the Tule River Parkway is important to the community because it serves as a viable alternative transportation resource.
“It provides connectivity to many of the main arterials in the city,” Moore said. “Not only will people using the trail reduce air pollution, but they will improve their mental and physical health.”
The Tule River Parkway runs from Main Street west to Highway 65 along the southern bank of the Tule River.
“The next phase will be Main Street east to Plano,” Moore said. “The following phase will head west from Highway 65 to eventually out to Westwood.”
According to Capone, 19 gardens have been adopted and 17 have been started.
“TRPA is dedicated to the restoration, preservation and development for public use of the Tule River riparian corridor. The project has welcomed community groups and individuals to partner with us in adopting a garden or helping in a variety of ways. TRPA hopes to demonstrate to the public that native plant gardens are beautiful, use up to 80 percent less water than traditional landscapes, and supports pollinators including birds and butterflies.”
There are a variety of the types of service community members can participate in if they decide to help along the Tule River Parkway, Capone said. They include planting plants, general maintenance of the parkway, adding irrigation, the cover-up of graffiti, sheet mulching, wedding, pruning, installing hardscape features, rocks, cement chunks (urbanite) and educating the public who use the path.
For more information on how you can help with the Tule River Parkway Native Plant Gardens, please call, or text Cathy Capone at 559-361-9164, or you can email her at firstname.lastname@example.org