|Written by Greg Ruland|
|Sunday, 15 January 2012 14:00|
Cottonwood City Council dedicated the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. Day to community service, calling on residents to volunteer part of the day to good works.
By resolution unanimously passed Jan. 3, council proclaimed “serving on the King holiday is an appropriate way to honor Dr. King, meet local and national needs, bring our citizens together, and strengthen our communities and nation.”
Monday, Jan. 16, offers Americans an “opportunity to give back to their communities on the holiday and make an ongoing commitment to service throughout the year,” the proclamation states.
A committee of nonprofits and community organizations like Serve Yavapai, Beaver Creek Adult Center, Beaver Creek Kiwanis, Beaver Creek School, Community Counts, Friends of the Well and Prescott College organized service events around the Verde Valley.
“Martin Luther King Jr. devoted his life to advancing equality, social justice and opportunity for all, and challenged all Americans to participate in the never-ending work of building a more perfect union,” according to the proclamation. “King’s teaching can continue to guide and inspire us in addressing challenges in our communities.”
His words continue to inspire Mayor Diane Joens, who takes part in two public service events on Martin Luther King Jr. Day.
The first part of the day finds Joens up Copper Canyon with Stewards of Public Lands, raiding an illegal waste dump to clean up the mess and possibly track down suspects. It is not unusual for the Stewards to find billing statements or other identifying information among the rubbish, Joens said.
“We turn that over to police,” Joens said.
Following the cleanup, Joens heads to Cottonwood Community Garden in Riverfront Park to honor the dozen or so Let’s Move kids who cleared, tilled, planted and nurtured the garden under the expert direction of Bobbie Jo Gooslin, a Yavapai County master gardener volunteer.
“The whole idea is to eliminate childhood obesity in one generation,” Joens said. “Bobbie gave tons of food away from our little plot, all kinds of stuff to Old Town Mission, local food banks, the senior center.”
Gardeners grow food, learn the cycle of seasons, when and where to plant, how to prepare the soil and many other skills. They engage in physical exercise along the way. They eat the fresh produce they grow and learn nutrition, all components of first lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move program, Joens said.
Council members Ruben Jauregui, Karen Pfeifer and Linda Norman had no plans to perform public service as of Monday, Jan. 9. Each said they engage in service projects throughout the year.
“When people need me, I try to be there,” Pfeifer said.
Jauregui said civil rights gains made by King and others eroded in the last couple years. Violence around the Verde Valley in 2011 could be the result of racial tension in the community, he speculated.
“If [Martin Luther King] came back today, I think he would be disappointed,” Jauregui said.
Councilmen Terence Pratt, Jesse Dowling and Tim Elinski were unavailable for comment as of press time.
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