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10,000 to Give Helping Hands to Distressed Sacramento-area Parks on Saturday

SACRAMENTO – More than 10,000 members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and their friends will descend on parks throughout the Sacramento region Saturday, May 8, to perform necessary work from clean-up and general maintenance to painting, planting trees and even construction jobs.

Under the banner of Mormon Helping Hands, an international program of the Church that has provided manpower in distressed communities and organized relief efforts after natural disasters, the volunteers have chosen parks in their own communities to perform work in state, regional and city parks that have been hit hard by the recent downturn in the economy. The Sacramento effort is part of a statewide Mormon Helping Hands undertaking whose theme is “Preserving California’s Parks.”

“Members of the Church since the 1840s were instrumental in the establishment and building up of the state, including Sacramento and many other local cities and towns,” said Dennis Holland, Director of Public Affairs for the Sacramento Region. “We feel it is our duty to continue in following Jesus Christ’s example of service to others by helping to improve the communities in which we live, especially during these tough economic times for our local and state governments.”

One of the projects will be at Effie Yeaw Nature Center, which will be losing its funding from Sacramento County on July 1. Located inside Ancil Hoffman Park in Carmichael, the nature center has a list of projects to be accomplished, but no funds to pay for the labor to accomplish them. Among the projects that the Helping Hands volunteers will tackle is the construction of a natural playground out of fallen trees, the weeding of non-native plants from the nature area, the restoration of a pond, and the building of a display stand for a section of a 150-year-old Valley Oak tree.

“There is no way with our current low staffing levels we have now or expect to have in the future that we could remove the invasive and very tall-growing, non-native weeds,” said Marilee Flannery, Park Interpretive Supervisor of Effie Yeaw Nature Center. “This and the other projects would never get done without the helping hands of these volunteers.”

About 800 volunteers – including Hmong and Samoan groups – will donate more than 2,000 man-hours at the City of Sacramento’s William Land Park, which has seen its finding cut by 60 percent in recent years and its maintenance staff trimmed from 22 to seven employees. Volunteers will focus on numerous work projects, including historic trail restoration, power-washing of park amenities, landscape maintenance, specialized gardening, and the cleaning out of the park’s three ponds. The volunteer service in Land Park has an estimated value of more than $70,000.

To thank the Helping Hands volunteers, both the City and County of Sacramento have officially declared May 8, 2010, as Mormon Helping Hands Day.

The numerous other local projects include:

In Natomas: Partnering with the Sacramento Tree Foundation and the Sacramento City Council, volunteers will plant 86 trees at Rosebud Park in North Natomas and build a community garden in a Natomas neighborhood that doesn’t currently have such amenities.

In Sacramento: One of the oldest cemeteries will receive a sprucing-up, as 400 volunteers will do some light painting, trimming around headstones and cleaning them up at East Lawn Memorial Park at Folsom Boulevard and 43rd Street.

In Orangevale: Volunteers will be refurbishing one of the town’s biggest draws: the Frisbee Golf Course at Orangevale Park.

In El Dorado County: At the Marshall Gold Discovery State Historic Park, where early members of the Church were instrumental in discovering gold and sparking the Gold Rush, hundreds of workers will paint and restore several buildings. Last year, the state park was threatened with closure.

In Placer County: More than 800 volunteers will be working in the Hidden Falls Regional Park, installing several miles of fence posts and non-barbed wire, clearing existing trails, building new trails and clearing brush.

In Yolo County: About 400 volunteers will be performing necessary work in six Woodland parks as well as the Woodland Opera House. In addition to weeding, raking and spreading bark chips, the volunteers will paint and stain buildings, gazebos, benches and picnic tables, replace roof shingles and pressure-wash buildings.

To cover one of the projects, please call Gary Zavoral at (916) 367-9537 or e-mail him at bigzav@hotmail.com.

For more on the churchwide Helping Hands program, go the Church’s Newsroom at http://www.newsroom.lds.org/ldsnewsroom/eng/news-releases-stories/-mormon-helping-hands-program-a-decade-of-service.


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