Local residents to UNITE for community projects this Saturday

Youths mix cement for arts and craft as part of the Art in the Garden project.

File Photo: Youths mix cement as part of the Art in the Garden project at UNITE Lancaster 2011.

LANCASTER – This Saturday, a number of local volunteers, community organizations, and sponsoring businesses will come together for the City of Lancaster’s annual UNITE (Uniting Neighbors in a Team Effort) Program. This year’s seven UNITE Lancaster projects focus on strengthening community ties, beautifying, and enhancing public safety in local neighborhoods.

“It is when residents actually become involved in their neighborhoods through programs such as UNITE that they cultivate a true sense of ownership, community pride, and a genuine interest in the progress of their community,” said Mayor R. Rex Parris. “UNITE not only brings neighbors together, it brings local government, business and non-profits together, working toward a common goal—making Lancaster a magnificent place to live, work, and play.”

Launched in 2010, the UNITE program is administered by the Lancaster Neighborhood Vitalization Commission (LNVC) and the City staff Safer Stronger Neighborhoods Committee. Each year, the City invites citizens and local community organizations to submit their community project applications, which are then evaluated based on six criteria: self-reliance, neighborhood involvement, sustainability, community benefit, partnership building and innovation.

This year’s UNITE program focuses on the El Dorado neighborhood, which encompasses the area from Avenue J to Lancaster Boulevard, and from Division Street to Challenger Way. While applications from throughout the City of Lancaster were accepted, applicants were encouraged to submit projects which targeted the El Dorado area.

The City’s 2012 UNITE projects are as follows:

  • Back to School Boot Camp— This one-day boot camp helped prepare incoming 6th graders and their families at Endeavor Middle School. Facilitated by a team of parents, faculty and staff volunteers, the camp took place on Wednesday, August 29th, covering topics such as goal setting and bicycle safety. In addition, 50 students also received backpacks with school supplies. The students will be “playing it forward” by participating in a clean-up day at the school on Saturday, September 22nd from 8 a.m. to 11:00 a.m.
  • Historic BLVD District— Organized by a group of neighborhood residents, this is a parkway planter rehabilitation project along Fig Avenue between Oldfield and Newgrove Street. The project involves participating residents removing weeds and replacing turf areas with drought tolerant, low maintenance plants and decomposed granite. Not only will the residents do the work, they are also paying for a portion of the supplies.
  • Mental Toughness for Success— Facilitated by the Lancaster Youth Development Foundation and local volunteers, this six-week program has taught mentorship and life skills to approximately fifty of Lancaster’s youth. The project’s objectives are to teach young people how to become contributing members of their community, teach basic landscaping skills and apply common core principles to their short and long term goals.  The program will culminate on UNITE day, as participants offer free landscaping services and a general neighborhood clean up to community residents within the El Dorado Community.
  • Monkey See, Monkey Do Community BBQ — This event includes several fun activities for the whole family including a bicycle rodeo; pedestrian safety training; a BMX Bike Show; a Zumba dance class and much more.  The Monte Vista Parents Association and Monte Vista Elementary School are hosting this project in hopes of providing more effective tools for bike and pedestrian safety, visibility, and communication, while improving neighborhood relations.
  • Sticks & Stones: Heal the Bullying— Sticks & Stones is a community-based art project designed to raise awareness regarding the harmful effects of name calling, hate speech, and bullying, while promoting resiliency and healing of those victimized by such words.  Hosted by the OUTreach Center, the project will include a youth art workshop where young people will write the words that wounded them on flat paving stones, which will then be used to create a path of unity at El Dorado Park.
  • UNITE Chess Program— Hosted at El Dorado Elementary School from 9 am to 3 pm by AV Chess House’s Say Yes to Chess Program, this Scholastic Chess Mini-Game© Tournament will introduce children grades K-6 to the joys of playing chess. Snacks will be provided, and trophies and certificates will be awarded.
  • Unity by Numbers II— A successful UNITE project last year, Unity by Numbers II is a public safety project where volunteers paint/repaint house addresses on street curbs, with the goal of aiding emergency response teams in locating homes in the event of an emergency. This year’s project will include a neighborhood cleanup component in the El Dorado neighborhood.  Facilitated by members of the Baha’i Faith of Lancaster, along with local volunteers, organizers plan to continue the project for the next eight months.

For more information regarding the UNITE program, please visit www.cityoflancasterca.org/unite or call (661) 723-6072

(Information via press release from the City of Lancaster.)