San Jose Volunteer Cleanup Wins $10,000 Award From USA Weekend Magazine

San Jose is one of three cities to win a USA Weekend Magazine Make a Difference Day award for the efforts of a city-school-neighborhood collaboration to rid an East San Jose area of graffiti, litter and blight.

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Volunteers wipe out graffiti.

The $10,000 award will be presented to the Strong Neighborhoods Program during National Volunteer Week on Thursday, April 19, in Washington D.C. East San Jose Neighborhood Resource Center staff member Marta Dominguez will accept the award from actor Kevin Bacon at a luncheon.

USA Today Weekend Award Team encouraged event organizers to apply for the award after reading NeighborWebSJ’s story on the October 22, 2011, San Jose Make a Difference Day event.

“I’m exited. I’m proud. I’m happy,” said Dominguez. “We have a good team. We have accomplished a lot of things. We’ve engaged the community and made a difference.”

The $10,000 award will help pay for supplies and future cleanups and community-engaging events, Dominguez said.

Led by San Jose Neighborhood Team Manager Paul Pereira, about 160 volunteers launched Make a Difference Day by breaking up into teams to patrol an area bound by King Road, Reid-Hillview Airport, Story Road and Tully Road. They removed 708 graffiti tags and filled 48 bags with trash. City crews hauled away 29 shopping carts, six mattresses and four sofas.

Volunteers included representatives from Most Holy Trinity Church, Overfelt High School, Boys and Girls Club of East San Jose and Meadowfair, Dorsa and Tully Ocala King neighborhoods. The cleanups are now a monthly routine.

Created by USA Weekend Magazine, which is distributed locally in the Sunday San Jose Mercury News, Make a Difference Day is celebrated annually on the fourth Saturday in October to encourage millions across the nation to volunteer in their communities. The magazine partners with HandsOn Network and Newman’s Own Foundation to provide the program, which also gives awards to 10 individuals and groups not affiliated with city programs.

The 2012 awards to cities were also given to Jersey City, N.J., and Salisbury, N.C. The next Make a Difference Day is Saturday, October 27.

The East San Jose Neighborhood Resource Center is at 2041 Nassau Drive, across the street from Most Holy Trinity Church and can be reached at Center at (408) 794-7556.

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