Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints from two cities in the metro Denver area (Arapahoe and Aurora) were honored on a national level with the receipt of the 2007 Take Pride in America Award on 19 July. The City of Aurora nominated the Church for this recognition based on the service rendered by more than a thousand volunteers at the Aurora Reservoir during last summer’s Colorado Cares Day.
Take Pride in America is a national partnership program directed by the U.S. Department of the Interior that encourages and applauds citizen involvement in local stewardship of public areas such as parks and historical sites across the country. After reviewing hundreds of deserving nominations submitted for the annual national award, a panel of judges selected 18 winners in 12 categories. The Aurora and Arapahoe stakes of the Church were the sole recipients of the award in the faith-based group category.
“These are extraordinary individuals and organizations who have tapped into the power of volunteerism to enhance our public lands and improve the experiences of visitors to those lands,” said Deputy Secretary of the Interior Lynn Scarlet during the presentation ceremony held in Washington, D.C.
Over 4,800 hours were devoted to the Aurora Reservoir enhancement project, along with months of pre-planning by Church leaders in conjunction with city officials. Despite high temperatures, volunteers of all ages worked diligently installing more than 8,000 linear feet of post and cable fence, restoring riparian habitat through wetland plantings, pulling noxious weeds and cleaning an old farm property (including the removal of a half mile of corral fencing). Boy Scouts from the Church’s congregations also built and installed kestrel boxes and raptor perches and made improvements to the reservoir’s archery range and scuba beach.
“What they were able to accomplish in four hours would have taken us several years,” said Linda Strand, manager of the Open Space and Natural Resources Division. “This collaborative effort is a great example of how city government and local groups can work together toward a common goal. We are thrilled at the results.”
“As stewards of their community and with a desire to provide service, the individuals involved in this project are truly the reason for its outstanding success,” said Lyn Johnson, a member of the Church from the Arapahoe Stake who helped spearhead the task. “While it was a challenge to organize, the project was a delight to experience. I am very honored to accept this award on behalf of every participant who gave their time, energy and support to this tremendous effort.”
The Colorado Cares Day initiative, promoted by the governor’s office, encourages residents to make a difference by taking part in a day of service to commemorate Colorado’s statehood. Volunteers from Colorado congregations of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have enthusiastically supported this annual event by joining with others and giving back in their own communities with a variety of service projects over the past eight years. Similar plans are underway for this year’s Colorado Cares Day on 28 July.