This inaugurates a new blog labeled “Lawn Cares,” with the subtitle, “Somebody has to say it…”  While I have been writing for publication since 1963, I am profoundly aware of how much that needs to be said is never said.  News stories are never written for lack of writers’ time,  because of editors’ disinterest,  a shortage of space in the newspapers, inability to find the right sources,  the complexity of issues that will suck up so much time, and more factors.

Perhaps, this blog will talk about things compelling, because “someone has to say it.”

There’s the old line, “Bloom where you are planted.”  When I moved my family from Iowa to the Valley in the spring of 1984,  I never expected to so quickly engage in the life of Tempe.    Between my newspaper job, my young family and community and church work in the Waterloo, Iowa, area, I was on overload. So the move to Tempe seemed a bit of an escape.

Well, I am a joiner.  I have inclination to lend my time and energy to what comes before me, so I quickly got involved in the life of Tempe and was on a Tempe Red Cross board right off the bat.   I would be invited again and again to serve on boards, committees, task forces and short-term projects. It not only has meant thousands of hours away from home, filing cabinets crammed all over our house and scrambling to get my own professional work done, but it has brought me enormous friends, contacts and satisfaction.

There is something special, though, about being there from the beginning.  I recall the spring of 1991, when a Tempe Leadership class announced it was launching a new undertaking called “Tempe Cares.” (I served six years on the Tempe Leadership Board, including five years as its secretary).  It would invite all sorts of community groups to send volunteers to a neighborhood that was showing signs of neglect and despair.   The volunteers would spend most of a Saturday stripping dead paint from the outside of houses and putting on new paint. Eves would be repaired, brush and junk hauled away, raking carried out, shrubs and trees  trimmed.  House after house would quickly sparkle.  Our start was a neighborhood just north of Scales School on West 5th Street.

On Saturday, March 6, Tempe Cares volunteers completed their 20th year of a daylong work blitz. This time there were four locations, with an eye on helping agencies and organizations that serve the homeless in the Tempe area.

The Kiwanis Club of Tempe, my service club since 1986, led a team that completely painted the exterior of the 72-year-old main building of Tempe Salvation Army, as well as its  main waiting room in the adjacent building. Constructed in 1938, the larger main structure was designed by the late, longtime Tempe architect Kemper Goodwin, whom I got to know.  That building at 40 E. University Drive was erected as the Church of God of the Abrahamic Faith and renamed “Bible Church of God.” The congregation moved in 1973 to Guadalupe Road and Lakeshore Drive and is now known as the Lakeshore Bible Church.   The Salvation Army subsequently bought the old church and made it its headquarters for Tempe. A 1981 Tempe Historical Survey said, “This building represents a good example of the use of Tudor detailing  in a church building, i.e., high-pitch gable roof.”

While most of us volunteers were able to slather on paint from ground level and ladders, a forklift/crane thingamajig with hydraulic extension cylinders reached the gables.   By 1:30 p.m., our task was completed and the old building is, at least, the most newly painted structure in downtown Tempe.  Some 30 volunteers helped out, with Kiwanian Joe Schmoker as our taskmaster.  Two of us from the Tempe Salvation Army Board (where I have served since 1995) are grateful for the effort of the volunteers.

Tempe Cares shows that Tempe cares.