It was one of the most Herculean efforts I have ever seen undertaken, certainly one of the most ever undertaken by a very few citizens within the town of Comanche. To be quite honest with you, it was hard, backbreaking, filthy work that a very small group of volunteers quite willingly took upon themselves in an effort to help clean the town of Comanche. Today, I decided that it was high time I asked these people some questions about WHY they did it. As you might expect, the answers I received were as varied as were the personalities of those who helped…and yet…they all had bits of a recurring theme…they all care greatly about their time.
The first on my list was Vickie Harvick, who has spent hours visiting with me through the years about how badly Comanche has needed cleaning. Like so many of us, Vickie’s roots run deep in Comanche County, and it has been very important to her that the town not be allowed to deteriorate.
“I volunteered to help with the City Clean-up Project because I felt that it would be my way of giving back to the community. I was born in Comanche and have lived here most of my life. I did not realize until I got started how rewarding it was going to be. I chose the southeast side of town because I am most familiar with it.
“My volunteers and I passed out flyers in both Spanish and English to get the project started. I felt that communication was a big part in its success. The reward came when we were loading up trash and a neighbor would see what we were doing and would start dragging his trash to the curb. Then, I saw people out mowing and weed-eating their yards. It was infectious. People really do care! Sometimes they just need a little help!
“I want to thank the city for giving the property owners and volunteers this opportunity to dispose of unwanted trash, tires, and tree limbs. I know it was expensive, but if Comanche is going to continue to see economic progress, it must get its properties up to code and keep them there.”
Kristi Taylor was next on my list of volunteers. She and hubby, Randy, hooked up a long flatbed and drug it to town in order to haul brush, lumber, limbs, trash, and anything else anyone needed taken away. It was hot dirty work, and it was the Taylors day off from their real jobs. It was Kristi who explained why they decided to join the effort.
“We do not live in town. Never have. But we still feel very much a part of town, and we have always tried to give back. I grew up here, and I want to be proud of our town. I am very much a doer as well. I hate to sit back and not get things done.”
“Randy and I are not above getting dirty. In the line of work that I am in, you see all kinds, and you learn not to judge. You learn to give. You try to empower others. But, sometimes, you just have to give and in giving, you empower others.
“I feel that this is what we are doing in the city at this time. We are giving and hopefully we are empowering others to get their own places clean and keep them clean. And then, the city and the county can also be held accountable to do their part.
“I have so enjoyed being a part of the chamber. It has taught me that, in our town, we all have to work together to get our town moving, that with a lot of effort and TEAM WORK, we can move mountains. And these are mountains that for a long time, folks did not think could be moved. And I love to prove people wrong when it comes to getting things done right!
“We are proud to be a part of this movement in Comanche.”
Kerry Dudley has been working for Comanche for years, but she is probably best known for her work with Santa’s Helpers each year; however, for the past two weeks, Kerry has donned jeans, work gloves, and a smile as she offered her services to anyone who might need them.
After moving to Comanche area in 1976, I found ways to become active in my new found home town. Working at the newly built DeLeon Hospital afforded me opportunities such as becoming a CPR instructor for staff, chairing blood drives to increase donations twice annually, and later, becoming actively involved on board of American Heart and then Santa’s Helpers. God blessed me with a servant’s heart and when the opportunity arose for helping with Comanche Clean Up, I jumped at the chance to express my solid commitment to my adopted hometown.
As a recently declared candidate for Comanche City Council, I felt I could demonstrate my intention to work hard for Comanche by physically working hard to help clean the town; hence my volunteering to lead NW quadrant project. As a result, I’ve met new folks and others I hadn’t seen in years. I’ve found great personal fulfillment in helping others clean and arrange their property or motivating others to begin cleaning neighborhoods. I’ve seen areas of town I hadn’t visited in some time and discovered the spirit of Comanche awakening through a small group of volunteers, willing to give of time and talent to make a difference in the town’s appearance.
Nearing the end of the project, I am determined to ensure we maintain the progresses made throughout Comanche by supporting the mayor and city council in code enforcement efforts and continuing to volunteer time in maintaining properties of neighborhoods.
It may have been Mario Licea’s answer that humbled me the most.
“I’m extremely proud that we could help. The biggest thing I got out of this project was that my kids were able to see and experience first hand what it is like to do something for someone else. I want them to know that the biggest payment you can get is a smile of gratitude!
“My family is entertaining the idea of doing free yard work like mowing and weed eating for some of our elderly residents who can truly use the help. God has blessed us with what we need. and we can pay it forward, whether it is with equipment or manpower. We want the city to step up and do its job, and then my family wants to do its job…helping those we see who need us.”
And isn’t that about what you would expect? People get out and work like animals for two weeks, carrying other people’s filth and when it is all over, they thank the city for letting them do it. What a lesson for all of us!