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Beautifying Riverbank - Local Couple Loves To Give Back
0402 Team
Sylvia and Mario Jimenez, city leaders for the Love Riverbank campaign, are preparing for the event on Saturday, April 5 starting at 9 a.m. Check the website for the projects that are in need of volunteers. VIRGINIA STILL/The News

Community leaders Mario and Sylvia Jimenez have taken on the Love Riverbank campaign for the past three years. This volunteer faith-based group spawned from the Love Modesto event and the group now benefits the City of Action.

The spring 2014 Love Riverbank event will be held on Saturday, April 5 and everyone is invited to gather at 9 a.m. in front of the Community Center.

“So this was a way to really enact the scripture when it says Jesus asked us to love your neighbor as you love yourself,” explained Sylvia. “To really bring it to life and bring it into an event where we go and see where our neighborhood needs love with help from the churches, the community, and from our organizations to come out and help.”

According to Sylvia, Eric Bjork started the Love Riverbank campaign in Riverbank after participating in Love Modesto and enjoyed it so much and realized how wonderful it felt to volunteer in areas that needed some help.

Community Praise Tabernacle Church brought all their youth, women and men to clean the streets of Riverbank. There were several volunteers that gathered so Bjork asked the church to take it over.

Since the start of the Love Modesto campaign it has generated Love Escalon, Love Oakdale and has spread to approximately 40 different cities and growing.

The main priority of the love your cities organizations are to reach out to the city workers, members of the community, and improve the community.

The projects can include but are not limited to covering graffiti, mowing lawns, painting, pulling weeds, dusting off books at the library and much more.

“The tasks are to make sure that everything is more friendly or appealing in the Riverbank community,” said Sylvia. “We are comprised of both church members as well as the general population of the community.

“So all we are doing really is being the hands and feet of Christ.”

The group also recognizes people that are public service groups like the fire department, police department and the city staff, honoring them with freshly baked cookies to say ‘thank you’ for what they do.

“Really we are just trying to bring the love back into the community and hopefully try to inspire those that have volunteered to continue (to volunteer) because it feels so good that you want to do it every month,” expressed Sylvia. “It can spawn into returning and seeing if they can bless those citizens that they are helping again.”

Councilmember Darlene Barber-Martinez will be baking cookies, as will a youth group, and then the cookies will be delivered on Friday and Saturday.

The volunteer numbers have grown since the first year that the church took over the Love Riverbank event. Jimenez stated that they had about 70 volunteers the first year and last year there were over 200 volunteers.

“So we are looking forward to a bigger group,” said Sylvia. “We have more projects this year so we are really trying to get the word out to come on out and love your city.”

Community Praise Tabernacle is a local Christian church in Riverbank that sponsors Love Riverbank and is organized by Mario and Sylvia.

The one thing that Sylvia stated they can improve on is their fundraising and they are learning as the event continues. They need funds for signs, yard signs, and T-shirts.

Delta Blood Bank is new to the Love Riverbank event and will have a mobile center in front of California Avenue Elementary on Saturday.

“We are excited about Delta Blood Bank being involved this year because with every donation they save three lives,” stated Sylvia. “There are so many different levels (of volunteers) where you are touching a life somehow and we’ve seen a lot of continued volunteers through this too.”

Some of the other projects this year are clean up at Jacob Myers Park, neighborhood beautification, Riverbank community gardens, Riverbank library, senior citizen helpers, and ‘floaters’ that can assist on any number of projects.

To volunteer for Love Riverbank you can visit the website, click on projects, and select the project that you would like to participate in and sign up. Interested parties can also log onto Facebook Love Riverbank to sign up or email with suggestions or for more information.

“There is always room for improvement and we are always looking to grow,” stated Sylvia.