This week’s column

Pub­li­ca­tion: Free­dom — OCR - Pla­cen­tia News-Times; Date:March 31, 2017; Sec­tion: News; Page Num­ber: 3

Help­ing our city with its to-do list

I talk a lot about how much I love Pla­cen­tia, but some­times I get frus­trated. I am one per­son, with a busy lifestyle. Even when I can carve out time to be help­ful, what could I do to make Pla­cen­tia better?

It’s not like the city has a “to-do” list for me to consult.

Usu­ally, I donate to a cause, either with money or with goods. This year, two things col­lided in my world: the urge to clean, and an invi­ta­tion to help dur­ing Love Pla­cen­tia Day.

Love Pla­cen­tia is part of the OC United organization’s “United for Cities,” a one-day event across mul­ti­ple Orange County cities, where vol­un­teers sign up to make a dif­fer­ence where they live. This year, it’s on Sat­ur­day, April 29.

Tasks range any­where from work­ing on parks, to dec­o­rat­ing the library, to hand­ing out water. The point of the day seems like a per­fect match for cit­i­zens who want to help but need some­one to point them in the right direction.

Cit­i­zens like me.

I was so excited to see the invi­ta­tion to be part of the day, I signed up with the first per­son who asked for vol­un­teers. Sheila Jor­dan is in charge of clean­ing up Krae­mer Park, and asked if any­one wanted to help.

I raised my hand immediately.

After the excite­ment had worn off, I thought about what I’d signed up to do. Clean­ing up a park would be a lot of dig­ging and plant­ing and mov­ing heavy objects. Sheila even sent an email ask­ing us to bring our own gloves and gar­den­ing tools.

Here’s the thing—I love gar­den­ing, but it doesn’t love me. Mostly, it’s my skin’s fault. I am so pale, I some­times won­der why I thought it would be a good idea to move to south­ern Cal­i­for­nia. Every day, I slather myself with sun­screen, even in the win­ter. And every day, some stranger tells me, “You’d bet­ter put on sun­screen, you’re going to burn.”

Each time, I’m tempted to look at my arms and scream, “Oh, no! When did my skin turn so white?” But I don’t because I try to be nice to people.

Not only do I burn eas­ily, my skin is sen­si­tive to plants. A morn­ing spent weed­ing the gar­den will result in large patches of red, itchy bumps on any flesh that touched any­thing green. I wear long sleeves when I can. When it gets too warm out, I go inside.

This is why my flower beds always look like the gar­dener has aban­doned all hope.

Even if my skin wasn’t so vul­ner­a­ble, I have a hard time keep­ing plants alive. I do best with ones I can neglect, like bougainvil­lea. If I have to feed and water them, I will kill them. I barely remem­ber to feed my fam­ily, and they can at least tell me they’re hungry.

Flow­ers at the park should be okay if I just have to plant them. Or Sheila may want to trade me to another team.

I’m actu­ally excited about going to the park and dig­ging weeds. Krae­mer Park is near a busy street, and could use a lit­tle spruc­ing up. And I’m eager to meet my fel­low vol­un­teers. They’re cit­i­zens like me, who want to make Pla­cen­tia a bet­ter place, and need some­one to point them in the right direction.

I’d love to see you out there.

Long­time Pla­cen­tia res­i­dent Gayle Car­line tracks those moments that shape her days as a wife, mom, com­puter whiz and horse­woman. E-mail her at [email protected].

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