City councilmember Arriola gives out certificate of recognition on behalf of mayors office
The event also featured Touro University administering COVID-19 shots. There were also activities for kids to learn about MLK, as well as food, coffee and a chance to exercise and mingle with people from the community.
“What I love today is the huge collaboration between so many organizations,” BWOPA President Deborah Dickson said. “Today is a day of service. A lot of people take the day off but I see it as a way to serve people, whether it’s to serve a food bank, shelter or just mentor someone. It just takes one person to do something good.”
Dickson also said that while Saturday was about service, it was also a day of education. She likes spreading all of MLK’s legacy — especially lesser-known stories about the man that played such a large role on so many levels including civil rights and peace.
“One of the things I like telling people is that he was such a joyous person,” Dickson said. “Although there were a lot of endangering forces out there at the time, MLK took joy in so many things. One thing I hear a lot from his family is that their father was generally happy.”
Although she relishes telling that story, Dickson, who is 72, can’t help but remember the constant tears she had when she was 18 and MLK was assassinated in 1968.
“I remember so many people just standing still and crying,” Dickson said. “I remember the sadness that overcame everyone and seemed to be so overwhelming.”
Vallejo City Councilmember Cristina Arriola was on hand on behalf of the Mayor’s Office to give out certificates honoring many for their work at the community garden.
“I’d first like to thank all the volunteers who come here on a regular basis,” Arriola said. “I drive by as I go back and forth through this strip here and I see the colorful boxes and the wonderful growth of produce with your working hands. It brings us back to our roots when we took care of our villages and took care of our small communities.”
One of the people honored with a certificate was Virginia Brooks, the garden keepers and President of the Women’s Home and Overseas Missionary Society.
“I’m pleased to see so many people today that were instrumental in getting this garden put back together,” Brooks said. “They really did a good job of putting the boxes and the tables together and you can see that people love to plant their plants, harvest their plants and get some exercise and some mental calmness. I’m pleased that people have come back out here and helped with the vaccines and providing outreach.”
Brooks also spoke about MLK.
“When I think of MLK I think of him always wanting unity and having all facets and aspects of the community,” Brooks said. “We’re all the same and if you take time to listen to people you’ll find that we all have very few differences. But the knowledge of learning what someone else is going through, that brings out the compassion. Everyone I have met today has been like a welcoming table.”
Vallejo NAACP’s Youth Director, Pat Hunter, also loved the unity on display at the garden.
“I think a goal of MLK was to have all races come together and for there to be unity,” Hunter said. “Vallejo has a very diverse community and if you look around today you will see it. MLK wasn’t just someone who had a dream. He was raised from parents in Georgia and he stressed the importance of education, family and the church. He was a preacher and a very spiritual man. He wanted peace and felt people could do anything if they put their minds to it. I see kids around here today believing in that and that gives me hope.”
One of the young adults on hand at the event was NAACP Vallejo Chapter Vice President Mesai Alonsabe, who is just 13 and attends Griffin Academy. Although it was his first time at the community garden, he liked what he saw.
“I like all the activities they have for kids,” Alonsabe said. “For someone like myself who is going into the adult stage soon, I think it’s good for kids to do things like this during the day. I think an event like today is all about that and people coming together and building relationships.”