NAPA VALLEY REGISTER
Nearly 300 people met at McPherson Elementary School in Napa Saturday to complete the construction of a new garden as well as clean, paint and build benches for what could be a future plaza for the neighborhood.
The volunteers included dozens of parents, elementary, middle and high school-age students, all of whom had various jobs during the day under the leadership of teens enrolled in LAYLA — or Leadership Academy: Youth Leaders in Action and middle school students.
LAYLA is a program of On The Move, a nonprofit organization that tries to bring residents together. Earlier this year, volunteers and LAYLA’s teens, who meet daily for a few hours at McPherson, broke ground on the future Cultural Plaza and Neighborhood Center, designed to serve residents of all ages. The plaza will incorporate a small area of nearby O’Brien Park.
“I like to create an area where adults and youths have a conversation,” said Steve Carlson, a general contractor, as he and other volunteers installed pipes to irrigate the planters at the new garden.
One goal, organizers said, was to have a day that brings people of all ages together.
Teens helped three dozen children enrolled at McPherson’s preschool program paint a picnic table while elementary school age children served water to older volunteers.
“I just like helping out in the community,” said LAYLA’s Maryana Valenzuela, 17, a senior at Napa High School.
Max Figueroa, 17, helped powerwash walls and clean windows. He just likes to “help out,” said the Valley Oak High School student.
Throughout the day, students interviewed, photographed and videotaped participants to record the event for LAYLA.
“It interests me to have everybody work together to build a community,” said Lizeth “Liz” Silva, 17, a senior at Napa High School, as students interviewed volunteers in a classroom.
The volunteers included two Danish students, Rikke Dahl and Kristian Pedersen, who are interning for three months for VOICES, a group that serves foster/transition-aged youth.
“I love the spirit,” said Rikke Dahl, 23, as her boyfriend, Kristian Pedersen, 25, hunted duck tape for one of the workers. “I’ve never seen an initiative like this,” she said.
Local businesses donated materials, including mulch and compost.
Emmanuel Donval, who helped coordinate the work in the garden, hopes to plant fava beans soon. LAYLA’s teens will oversee the garden, McPherson Principal Tamara Sanguinetti said.
The workday included a barbecue, with a cook-off between members of the Napa Police and Napa Fire departments, parents, teachers and the Family Resource Center.