The Coast News Group

Escondido Shines encourages volunteerism in city

ESCONDIDO — In an effort to increase community involvement, the five rotary clubs in Escondido are banding together to promote “Escondido Shines,” an initiative to encourage volunteerism throughout the city.

Chairman of Escondido Shines Vaughn North said normally 20 percent of the people do 80 percent of the work in the community and he’d like to change that.

“What we’re trying to do is recruit the 80 percent by making it easy (to volunteer),” said North.

The San Diego County Board of Supervisors approved $20,000 to go towards the project at a meeting Feb. 3.

North said the funds will go towards purchasing 20,000 plastic garbage bags and yellow wristbands which will be given out at all Escondido Union School District schools.

The hope is that school children will use the bags to beautify Escondido, by weeding a neighbor’s lawn, donating clothes or picking up garbage at local parks, North said.

“The thrust of the whole thing is to make small decisions to be more involved,” he said.

By encouraging kids, Vaughn said it will be a grassroots effort and he hopes the volunteerism attitude will percolate upwards throughout the community.

Rotary Club of Escondido President Keith Richenbacher said the idea is also to unify the community.

“It’s about a unification of the community, some joint projects to get out and get together and get to know our fellow ‘Escondidoans,’” said Richenbacher.

He hopes the initiative will lead to a friendlier and more unified community.

In another effort to get kids involved, each school is hosting a Student Community Spirit Week from Feb. 22-27.

Kids are encouraged to write an essay, create a poster, video or audio about supporting community pride and civic duty.

The winners in each category will receive $50.

The rotary club is partnering with faith organizations throughout Escondido to find out where services are needed and to get more adults involved.
North hopes the children will have a positive influence on their parents to get out and better the community.

He worked on a similar campaign in Sandy, Utah, called “Sandy Pride” which he credits for turning the city around into a place people are proud of.

The first Sandy Pride event was similar to Escondido Shines, said North. They handed out 20,000 trash bags to beautify the suburban city in Salt Lake City, Utah.
After the first event, the city won a beautification award from the state because of the community effort to clean trash and graffiti.

It’s now in its 30th year.

Sandy’s success encouraged North to do the same thing in Escondido.

“I don’t think I would have taken this on if I hadn’t seen a community do exactly what we’re asking them to do here and that is take the initiative on their own part,” North said.

Rotary President Richenbacher said they’re trying to set up music in the park on April 25 to further community bonding.

More information will be made available on the website which is set to launch soon.