Apr. 05

One America Los Angeles Rejuvenates a Neglected Beauty


On a glorious Los Angeles spring day today about 600 volunteers came out pick up trash, pull weeds, remove graffiti, repair fences and plant trees on the river banks near Elysian Park.

one_america_la_painting.jpgOne America volunteers clean up a local park.

Juan Escutia, who lives across the Los Angeles River from the park, said he doesn’t often see volunteer opportunities in the area, so he was interested in taking part. “It brings people together to help out for a good cause,” he said.

And Rita Valdez, who also lives nearby, said she came because she often uses the bike path along the river and wanted to help make the area beautiful.

“It’s always a good feeling when you walk away from doing volunteer work,” said Valdez, a longtime volunteer with the HandsOn Network affiliate L.A. Works. “You meet people, you’re able to contribute to the community and you feel good about it.”

The volunteers came from the LA River Revitalization Corp., the University of Southern California, UCLA, JPMorgan Chase and beyond for the last stop of the multicity One America tour, led by Points of Light and Chase. Since it kicked off last July in Columbus, Ohio, the tour has brought thousands of people together to volunteer in their communities – focusing on hunger, education and more.

one_america_la_wheelbarrow.jpgOne America volunteers work on landscaping.

Before heading to the Elysian Valley community, located along the river, the volunteers – many of them high school and college students – gathered at the Los Angeles River School for a rally and to recognize a woman who has made it her mission to encourage kids to stay in school.

For her work on education issues in her hometown of New Orleans and across the country, Rocsi Diaz received a Daily Point of Light Award, a Points of Light honor for extraordinary volunteers.

The Los Angeles-based co-host of “Entertainment Tonight,” formerly of BET’s “106 & Park,” spends much of her time volunteering for a wide variety of organizations. She also has launched her own foundation, RocStar, to help rebuild and repair public schools in New Orleans after the area was devastated by Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

At this morning’s event, Diaz said, “I am so thankful to be here with these kids on this beautiful Saturday morning. I hope I can put a smile on their faces and get them amped and ready to go clean an L.A. landmark. Their work today is amazing.” 

The kids cheered for Diaz and they also got a boost from community leaders who expressed their gratitude for all the people who gave their time and energy.

“This is one country – this is one America – so we take care of each other,” said California State Sen. Kevin de León. “When we come together as volunteers to clean up the river, to clean up our parks, it speaks volumes to who we are as a people, who we are as a country.”

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