Weed Revitalization Coalition is a project based group.
Mother Teresa, Gandhi, Oprah Winfrey… Think of altruism and it usually has the face of a famous person. Paul Newman, Bill Gates, Florence Nightingale… But in Weed, most of the people who are working to promote quality of life without expecting payment in return – in other words, volunteers – are everyday people who donate their time, energy, ideas, and various material goods to the city.
“It’s amazing the number of people who volunteer,” Joyce Oliver, one of the founding members of the Weed Revitalization Coalition, says. Presently the Coalition is located in the Weed Mercantile at 590 Main Street. “We always have the coffee on, and people come in, have a cup, and then ask what project we’re doing and how they can help,” John Oliver, co-founder of the Coalition and Joyce’s husband, adds.
The Coalition has a nine member board, but according to both Olivers, anyone can belong to the group. “There are no dues, and you don’t have to attend the monthly Board meetings unless you want to,” Joyce claims. “Ours is a project based group,” John notes. “If you have a project that needs backing, then all you need to do is attend the Board meeting and speak up. If the Board likes the project and the volunteers back it, we move forward.”
The Coalition started in 1993, but formalized on October 8, 2002, when it received its 501C3 status. 501C3 status is required so the group can qualify for grants and thus be a fiscal agent for those coming to them with project ideas. One of the well known projects backed by the Coalition is the Weed Skate Board Park. “Three years ago, the kids in the community wanted to build a skate board park. We voted on the idea and decided to back it; the kids really ran with it, doing fund raisers, bake sales, karaoke contests, car washes, presentations, helping with the building, even. We completed the park in three years, raising $250,000 – everyone supported it, community and government organizations, private businesses and lots of volunteers.”
During the last five years, WRC has completed phase one of Cougar Park. Volunteers planted over 200 native plants, installed a sprinkler system, built the concrete slabs and the picnic tables that stand on them, and provide continued maintenance for the park. The list of other projects completed is daunting, including providing banners and business signage and planting flowers on Main Street, painting downtown murals, hosting Christmas craft fairs and Weed’s Wildflower Festival. WRC was the only non-profit group that worked on the Weed Centennial Plaza.
“We provide Christmas decorations and lights for 60 trees throughout the city which are put up by Weed Public Works. We host the children’s adopt-a-sock Christmas party. One volunteer knits over 200 Christmas stockings for the children,” Joyce boasts. “And we serve over 200 cooked meals for the Community Thanksgiving dinner,” John adds.
“Everyone always asks where the money comes from,” Joyce laughs. “Well, we sell Weed afghans, Weed cook books, Weed souvenirs, t-shirts, and mugs. We have fund raising festivals and we apply for and receive grants. We have a donation jar, and people just come in and toss in money. We tell them the coffee is free, but they always put in some cash, and then when they’re drinking, they ask what they can do to help out. And they give us things all the time—TVs, desks, computers, printers. Whatever we need just seems to show up.”
Recently, the Weed Revitalization Coalition has sponsored Mark Oliver’s and James Langford’s documentary, “From the Quarters to Lincoln Heights.” “We were very excited about their project and agreed to be the sponsoring agent for them,” John says. “Right before the premiere, we’re hosting a barbeque; all the funds raised there will be used to help market the DVD so it can be made available in school curriculums. We’re very proud to be a part of that effort.”
“Our next project is the Aviation Museum at the Weed airport,” Joyce adds. “There will be four phases to it, and already the volunteers are lining up.” Those interested in a list of past, present, and future projects may visit weedrc.org.
The motto for the Coalition is “Working Together Works. “ “We never know where the money will come from,” Joyce notes, “but it always comes. We always get the projects done. Volunteers always show up.” “I guess you could say we’re gate openers or bridge builders,” John adds. The Coalition has its Board meeting the first Thursday of every month at 5:30 p.m. at the Weed Mercantile. The Olivers encourage those with projects that need backing to attend. “And of course, anyone who wants to volunteer is welcome!” Joyce laughs.