OPINION: Supervisor, Sun Citians take PRIDE in Sun City

OPINION: Supervisor, Sun Citians take PRIDE in Sun City

Posted: Thursday, March 27, 2014 1:15 pm
By Clint Hickman

Remember those poor, haggard citrus trees that lined the median of Del Webb Boulevard north of Bell Road just beyond Palmeras Drive?

They’re gone, replaced by decorative rock, desert-tolerant bushes and green plants in an appealing, water-saving landscape which should make all Sun City residents proud.

Interesting word, pride.

It was pride, in a community, in its cleanliness, in its curb appeal, the sense of volunteerism that has always inspired Sun City that made this transformation happen. And happen so quickly. The 50-year-old trees, with dead, cracked branches and chipping bark, were standing in early February. But in a cooperative project that involved hard-working maintenance crews of the Maricopa County Department of Transportation, the expertise of Linden Tree Nursery and Sun City volunteers, an attractive makeover has taken place.

By the first week of March, the new plants, which will require about half the irrigation water that the trees consumed, were in the ground. As Grace Kinsey, president of the Sun City PRIDES, told me: “The plants are happy and healthy and just last month, there were trees.”

And guess who we really have to thank? The Sun City PRIDES, Proud Residents Independently Donating Essential Services, specifically the Beautification Committee, people like Sue Hemphill and her late husband John, Jerry Kavanagh, Ken and Beth Smith and others who volunteered their time to keep Sun City updated and beautiful.

Where do we find people so willing, so giving? How do we find more of them?

Volunteering used to come naturally to Americans of all ages, backgrounds and stations. But over time, it is becoming less common. Folks are busy. The women of the Baby Boom generation joined the workforce in greater numbers than did their parents. Scholars blame affluence, TV and leisure time activities, even a more expansive government. But mostly, the academicians cite a decline in the “we’re-all-in-this-together” attitude among Americans of subsequent generations.

That’s why Sun City serves as a civic model we all should emulate.

Just consider Ms. Kinsey, a 17-year Sun City resident and a 13-year member of the PRIDES. She is busy with line dancing and ballroom dancing, but with her volunteerism, like those of most PRIDES, she helps to keep a small area of Sun City free of debris and weeds. Then, she joins with other volunteers — The Squad — to help in “needy” areas, where weeds and trash have overgrown the ditches and medians and the citrus fruit needs to be picked.

I repeat: Where do we find people so willing, so giving? How do we find more of them?

Jerry Kavanagh, a 15-year Sun Citian, thinks the economic recession has forced many older Boomers to continue working full time. They’re too busy to join him, the Saturday Squad leader, in cleanup and planting work.

I guess that’s true. But I believe Sun City residents appreciate the work the 300-strong PRIDES, a decades-old organization, and, if they think about it, the PRIDES will grow even larger, replenish itself with new and younger members, and serve as a an example for other Arizona communities.

One resident, Beth Smith, offered an instructive analogy. She and her husband Ken, the beautification project leader, are winter visitors. This is their sixth winter in Arizona. But they give of their time.

“If our generation doesn’t step up to the plate with other people, who will do it?”  they ask. “We’re more of a basketball team (with every player working together) than a golf team (with individuals).”

I certainly hope so.

[Photo caption: Maricopa County Supervisor Clint Hickman, left, and Sun City PRIDES members Susan Hemphill and Ken Smith cut the ribbon during a dedication ceremony for the work completed along Del Webb Boulevard north of Bell Road in Sun City on March 5. – photo credit: Nick Cote/Daily News-Sun]


– link to You West Valley article

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