Many parks in Sacramento receive less maintenance from the city due to budget cuts. As a result, approximately 75 participants volunteered at the Tahoe Park cleanup event last Saturday, from 8:30 a.m. to 11 a.m.

The event was hosted by Isaac Gonzalez, a current resident of the area and a member of the Tahoe Park Neighborhood Association. Gonzalez has been hosting cleanup days for the past two years. When asked, “How do you feel at this moment?” He replied, “I feel great! I’m really thankful for the kids that showed up. Because of the budget cuts, the cleaning is less frequent. It just wouldn’t get done.”

Everyone simply gathered and listened to Gonzalez giving directions and brief summaries of the flaws of the park that needed to be fixed or cleaned.

When someone looks at a park, many don’t see the little problems and dents unless you were searching to fix them. The sidewalks were leeched with weeds. The grass beside the sidewalks were growing steadily onto neighboring fences with branches of trees pushing against them. Not to mention the trash laying around every glance you take. Wendy stated, “Why throw trash in a place meant for fun and laughs?”

The volunteers all grabbed tools or bags and started working. Folks in the community just taking a stroll or walking the kids even pitched in to help. Mike, his wife Ann and daughter Sophia claimed, “It’s our park.”

Even with the heat at about 90 degrees and rising, most stayed until the end. Don’t worry, they didn’t dehydrate. Drinks and snacks were available.

I was very surprised to see the fire department show up. Their faces really boosted the morale and motivation of the participants. I asked them; “What has motivated you all to come?” “This is our home away from home. One third of our lives are in the neighborhood, so we are proud to support this. The city should be here, but regardless this is a huge turnout.” “How are you feeling?” they replied, “We’re tired but great! It takes a community to raise a child.”

At 11 a.m., Gonzalez ended the day with a raffle, handing out prizes to winning volunteers. The Tahoe Park Neighborhood Association also awarded them with a free ticket into the park’s pool. All the participants should be proud of themselves for ignoring the budget cuts and stepping up to clean a giant part of their neighborhood. Joe and Janet said, “It gives us something to do. Something to feel good about. To stay productive.”

“This should’ve happened a long time ago. I have a sense of belonging. This is a great way to teach the community to take care of our home.” – Mirna Gonzalez