Loving and helping your neighbors

By ANTHONY CANNELLAOctober 6, 2012 

This last weekend, I, my wife and our four children participated in LoveCeres, a semi-annual volunteer event which is part of LoveOurCities. If you are unfamiliar with the movement, it started with a single event three years ago called LoveModesto. LoveModesto was started as a faith-based effort by a pastor who wanted to get his parishioners out of the church and into the community. It was a tremendous success from the start and now brings out about 2,500 people to tackle various projects across the city. Even better, with the success of LoveModesto's original event, there are 40 cities across the Central Valley and Bay Area that participate in LoveOurCities programs.

I am often busy on the weekends attending various events across my district to welcome volunteers and thank them for participating. This year, my wife's birthday fell on the LoveCeres weekend, and it was her wish to have the family spend the weekend giving back to the community.

Now, admittedly, I tried to talk her out of it. It was her birthday and a beautiful weekend. There were many other fun activities we had at our disposal. Her mind was made up, though, and she was not interested in hearing about other options.

The six of us got up early Saturday morning and headed to the Ceres community center to get our assignment. We signed up for yard maintenance and were sent to a house owned by a single mother with a special needs child. Her yard was truly a disaster. I am not exaggerating in saying that it looked as if it was hit by a tornado.

A few minutes after we arrived, there were 30 volunteers at the house. They were a diverse group of volunteers, women and men of all ethnicities, from young children to the elderly.

We worked as a team and attacked that yard with undeterred determination. The transformation happened slowly, but the final product was impressive, and I was blessed to be a part of it.

I am also glad that our whole family participated. I want my children to learn how service not only impacts the lives of others, but also their own.

I learned a few things that day. I believe government provides an important role in assisting those in need, but it cannot do everything for everyone. Government could not have transformed that yard the way those volunteers did. We all have the opportunity to contribute to our neighborhood, our city, the state and the nation in some capacity.

From this day forward, I am going to redouble my efforts to look for ways to help my neighbor with the hope that I can make a difference in their lives. I encourage everyone to do the same.

If you would like to get more information or to get yourself or your city involved, please visit www.loveourcities.org.

The state also maintains a Web site that provides information on volunteer opportunities in a wide variety of areas across the state at www.

californiavolunteers.org.

Not only will your community and those in need benefit, but you will, too.

Cannella, R-Ceres, represents the 12th Senate District. He is a former mayor of Ceres and a civil engineer.

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