Painting With A Purpose

Early Sunday morning I headed over to the Barnum area of Denver to help Democrats Work with their goal of painting over graffiti along the Alameda sound wall.

The office of Councilman Paul D. Lopez- District 3 was the staging ground and there were close to 30 volunteers that turned out on a sunny and cool Bronco's Sunday. Erin, the co-leader of Denver DW thanked us all for coming out to help, as did Councilman Lopez.

In my ongoing quest to learn more about the political makeup of Denver, I asked to join Councilman Lopez's work team, hoping he'd let me interview him for my blog. He said yes!

We headed over to the corner of Meade and Alameda and got busy painting! We painted over the graffiti from Meade to Stuart as well as picked up trash, gathered up overgrown brush, and in general had a really good time!

I learned firsthand from Councilman Lopez of the differences in graffiti (Crews vs. Individual taggers), why he cares so passionately about what he does (he grew up in the area and wants a better future for all his District 3 constituents) and how he met his wife Marisol (she came up to Denver for an Immigration rally with a group of students from Pueblo). According to Marisol, she loved his drive and initiative. And she thought he was really hot!

Another volunteer helping our group was Arturo Jimenez. Arturo is running for DPS Board of Education in District 5. He's a lifelong resident of Denver who currently lives in Highlands with his wife and two daughters. His law practice is located in Highlands as well.

I am always fascinated to hear what drives and motivates people to run for office and Arturo's story was both compelling and inspirational. Check out his site for more info or feel free to stop by Double Daughters on Wednesday 12 Sept for Denver Drinking Liberally...Arturo will be one of our guest speakers! He's also looking for volunteers, so I told him (hi Arturo!!) I would get the word out to all 7 of you that read my blog :-) Can't volunteer but want to help? Donations are glady accepted.

Even though I've volunteered for several campaigns since moving here, I still feel so out of the loop when it comes to knowing who,what, where, why as it relates to CO politics. Explained that to one of my fellow painters. Jerry, who was painting along side of me, asked me where I came from and why I picked Denver. Told him why I picked Denver and why I (repeat after me) never want to leave. He said he feels the same way as does his wife, who he brought here with him from Cleveland. It wasn't until later on in the day that I discovered another reason why Jerry might not want to leave Denver. Turns out he's HD 4 House Representative K. Jerry Frangas. I thought it was pretty cool that he gave up his Sunday morning to help out his fellow Denver residents.

We had company during the paint-a-thon as well. Both Channel 4 and Fox news came out to cover the event...did you see us on TV?

While there were parts of the day where a bunch of us would be congregated together painting the same area, every now and then we'd branch off and work on a section on our own. During my solo painting time, I thought about why I volunteer...and why I don't volunteer more often.

Why I do it is that I like to give back and help out when I can. And why don't I do it more often? Lots of reasons. Sleeping in on the weekend is one...an active social life is another. Still, after today I decided that it's not enough to volunteer every now and then, and if change is to happen in my city I need to step it up. That is where getting active with Democrats Work comes in handy. They have stuff going on all the time..almost every weekend they are off doing good in some sector of our area...so I promised Erin at the end of the day that she would see me more often.

Derek Sandos was one of our painting volunteers even though he almost got left behind in the back storage area of my truck. That's what happens when I attempt to lock up before making sure that everyone has exited the vehicle.

Derek is 22, goes to CU where he majors in Communciations and Marketing and happens to have politics in his DNA. Each generation of his family has been involved in Denver politics and community service. His grandfather was the late M.L. "Sam" Sandos. Derek's parents and extended family carry on the community service projects started by his grandfather. These include the Sam Sandos Christmas baskets as well as a scholarship program aimed at helping more students acheive a college education. Derrek is also an aide for Councilman Lopez. When asked if he planned to pursue a career in politics, Derek smiled and said ' Who knows' while he kept on painting.

We accomplished a fair amount of work in three hours. It got me thinking how much more could be accomplished with more volunteers. I'm glad I took the time to volunteer for this event. I met some great inspiring people, got to unleash my inner Picasso, had a wonderful time, and came away with a renewed sense of civic pride.

None of which would have happened if I had slept the day away.