Volunteers helped local organizations with gardening, cleaning, painting and picking up trash at different sites throughout the city Saturday at the ninth annual Pomona Beautification Day in Pomona.
More than 1,200 volunteers registered as individuals, families, teams and organizations to assist with different community projects at nine different locations.
“It’s not just about increasing social involvement and helping the environment, but also invoking pride, reducing violence and getting people engaged in the city,” said Megan Samaniego, volunteer coordinator for the Center of Community Engagement at Cal Poly Pomona.
The event started with a kickoff ceremony at Pomona City Hall with music to pump up volunteers as they signed in to receive their assigned projects.
Pomona Mayor Elliot Rothman, city council members, State Sen. Connie Leyva (D-Chino), Rep. Norma Torres (D-Pomona) and Pomona Unified School District board members were invited onto the stage and recognized as dignitaries.
Leyva presented Pomona with an award from the state for upholding community engagement and beauty of the city.
“I don’t know of any other city that does this,” Leyva said.
“It’s obvious that there’s a lot of pride in this city.”
Cal Poly Pomona was also given special recognition for participating in Beautification Day every year.
Of the participants, more than 150 of them are students from the school.
“This is our community,” Cal Poly Pomona President Soraya Coley said.
“It doesn’t take one or two people, but it takes everyone to accomplish what we want to achieve.”
After the ceremony, volunteers scattered and met at their designated cleanup locations to start their community service.
Projects included planting flowers at the Center Street Community Garden, cleaning up Ganesha Park, organizing items at the Helping Hands Caring Hearts homeless shelter, painting at the School of Arts and Enterprise and collecting golf balls at the Palm Lake Golf Course.
The workforce at the locations varied, with some organizations needing more than 100 volunteers to complete their projects.
At the School of Arts and Enterprise, about 60 volunteers cleaned out workshops and repainted doors and walls that were faded with previous paintings.
“By beautifying our school, we want students to have pride and ownership of their school,” said Lorraine Canalez, counselor at the School of Arts and Enterprise.
After four hours of work, volunteers ended the day with a free barbecue celebration at Diamond Plaza in Downtown Pomona.
The celebration featured live music and entertainment, an art show and booths from local organizations.
Volunteers who registered before the event also received a free ticket to the Los Angeles County Fair.
“We are grateful for all the hard work that went into putting this event together,” Rothman said.
“It makes Pomona Beautification Day an event that’s going to make the city look a lot better at the end of the day.”
Emily Lau can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.