Ray Martinez believes the only way to solve the city’s problems is for the community to come together.
“I am a man of God and I had gotten a vision on my heart,” Martinez said. “It’s time that not just one faction of our community, but everybody come together.”
Martinez and his church, Star of David Ministries, are planning a march and rally Saturday dubbed “Unity in the Community.” The six-mile march will begin at 9 a.m. at the intersection of Ward Road and Pacheco Boulevard. It will be broken into three two-mile sections and conclude at noon at the Los Banos Community Center, where there will be guest speakers, a raffle, children’s activities and food. The public is invited.
Martinez said making the community better will take local government, business owners and churches working with one another to solve issues like homelessness and gang violence.
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He said after the event he wants to establish a small group that will brainstorm solutions to many of the city’s problems.
“We have an awesome city, we just want to make it better. Our focus isn’t going to be to beat down the programs already in place, our focus is going to be to make them better,” he said.
Martinez said residents have told him they want less gang activity and more entertainment venues for children in town.
He’s hoping 300 people turn out, and that churches and business leaders get involved, too.
“Unity in the Community” is not unique in Merced County, said the seven-year Los Banos resident. He said similar celebrations have occurred in Livingston and Merced.
“It’s happening all over, not just in our community,” he said. “There’s power and beautifulness when you can get people coming together.”