Las Palmas Street, the oldest residential area of Coachella, Calif., had fallen into disrepair and needed to be cleaned up and restored to a healthier environment in which to live.
Many of the residents lacked the resources to undertake the monumental task alone. That’s one reason it was chosen for the Clinton Foundation Day of Action that was held Monday as part of the weeklong health and wellness activities leading up to the Humana Challenge.
Chelsea Clinton, Vice Chair of the Clinton Foundation, addressed more than 100 volunteers before the Day of Action began. After thanking the volunteers for their service and Coachella Mayor Eduardo Garcia for setting a good example, Clinton said she hoped the event would encourage more people to get healthy and get engaged in service.
“Let’s get to work,” she said at the conclusion of her welcome. And they did.
Volunteers immediately descended upon Las Palmas Street, planting flowers, repairing fences, trimming trees, and disposing of trash. One home was chosen for a complete makeover because it was dilapidated and the owner, Maria Celaya, didn’t have the resources to fix it.
“As a community, we said we had to figure out a way to help her,” said Garcia. “She’s lived a humble life and has spent 40 years in the house. We brainstormed and talked to the Clinton Foundation about making it the focus of this Day of Action.”
“Our environment has an impact on our health and wellness, and we want everyone to have the opportunity to live a healthy life,” Garcia said. “Health and wellness is important and it starts at home. This home will be a healthy home to live in.”
The corps of volunteers included a group of local students who had written essays about why service is important to them and why it is important to invest in their communities. It also included 24 participants in The First Tee program who won a trip to the Humana Challenge for being role models in their own communities. They are participating in the inaugural First Tee Healthy Habits Summit this week.
“It meant a lot to me to be able to do this because I was able to help someone who really needed it,” said Vitthal Parker, 18, of Atlanta. “The homeowner was really grateful.” Parker, a First Tee program member who participated in the Day of Action, also volunteers at a nursing home and elementary school in his own community.
“It was good to come together as a group and as friends to do all we can to make the community better and help people who need all the help they can get,” said Alexandra Batista, 15, of Fort Worth, Texas, another First Tee program participant who worked alongside Parker.
“Healthier community, healthier people. This means the world to us,” said Garcia, who read a proclamation making January 13 Chelsea Clinton Day in the City of Coachella.