Every Monday Matters: Plant a tree to beautify your world

In our busy, stressed-out lives, we often forget to stop and enjoy the beauty around us. As the old saying goes, "Stop and smell the roses." Or, in this case, "Stop and stare at the trees."

Trees are an integral part of our life, but we seldom realize how powerful they are -- their effect on our senses, their impact on our environment, and the shade they offer us, just asking us to come sit beneath them to relax.

But, like the beat of our heart, we don't really stop to think about them. How did they get there? How did they grow to get so big? Who planted them?

Alex Woodworth of Woodside knows how many of them got there -- because she planted them. She planted 12 of them, to be exact. Not in her own back yard, but in her local park, so they could be enjoyed by thousands of people for many years to come.

"I love to volunteer," Alex said. "From soup kitchens to blood drives to just helping my neighbor, I am constantly looking for ways to help. But tree planting was never something that came to mind until I visited Southern California after one of their big wildfires."

Alex and her family came to Los Angeles 12 years ago for vacation and couldn't believe what they saw. Besides all of the smoke in the air, they saw black, dead hills. No wildlife, no beauty, no joy.

"It's not like it was the first time I had seen the aftereffects of a wildfire, but, for some reason, I just took notice this time," said Alex. "It was so depressing and dark. I thought about the animals that died, I noticed these big trees that must have been 20 years old and now they were all dead ... the beauty was gone."

Fortunately, for the rest of us, this inspired Alex to start something pretty special. Something so simple, yet so positive.

"I decided that when we got back home, we were going to plant a tree somewhere in a public area," Alex said. "I had no idea how it was going to happen, but I was committed to figuring it out." When Alex and her family returned to Woodside, she started to investigate the process. She called the Department of Parks and Recreation and shared her vision.

"I told them about my experience in Los Angeles and shared with them that I wanted to donate and plant one tree a year in one of our city parks. I was so surprised by their excitement and willingness to work with me. We chose a park; they told me what type of tree they wanted to plant and where I could plant it. They even came out and helped us."

Today, there are 12 beautiful trees aligned along the back side of a park that provide beauty, shade and oxygen ... and, more importantly, symbolize the power of the human spirit.

Trees matter. You matter. Go plant a tree today. It might not have been on your "To-Do List" for today, but hopefully now it is.

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