Tempe Cares volunteers will make critical fixes at LoPiano Habitat

Story by Sally Mesarosh

In 1993, volunteers from 26 Tempe
schools constructed the Lo Piano
Bosque Habitat, a 13-acre site
named after former Tempe Mayor
William LoPiano, a supporter of
environmental issues.
Located just north of the 202
freeway between College and Mill
avenues, the site is used for student
education and recreational pursuits.
Twenty-one years later, the site
is in critical need of a massive cleanup
effort. But on the morning of
March 1, more than 300 volunteers
with the Tempe Cares project will
revitalize the area, hauling away trash,
re-establishing rock-lined trails and
removing non-native invasive plants.
The area was once part of the Salt
River floodplain, possibly used by the
Hohokam to gather plants for baskets
or other uses.
“It’s an area where a lot of people
hike, bike and do outdoor activities,”
said Courtney McIntyre of the
Tempe Chamber of Commerce. “The
volunteers will clean up the area and
make it grand again.”
Tempe resident Mel Kessler,
who has been involved with Tempe
Cares and Tempe Leadership since
1991, said the annual volunteer event
brings together residents, employees,
students, businesses and organizations
to improve the community.
Each year a different site is
chosen.
During past events, they’ve
painted homes, planted trees, painted
block walls and done a variety of tasks.
“Tempe Cares is a way for
people to learn about the community
and become aware of the social and
maintenance issues of the community,”
Kessler said.
“It really gives the volunteers a
great feeling to ride by a year later
and see a park where they planted
shrubbery, or see a house that they
painted. It gives them pride in
the recognition of the efforts they
expended.”
Kessler will be part of this year’s
project.
“It personally makes me feel good
that I’m doing something to improve
the neighborhoods, parks and schools,”
Kessler said. “I’ve been a resident
since 1970 and involved in many
Tempe activities. It’s a way for me to
give back to a great community that I
think is superb.”
Kessler’s favorite project memory
involves the time he assisted with
painting 20 homes of senior citizens
and disabled residents. On the Monday
after the project, a woman in his office
asked him if he was part of the painting
project.
“She said, ‘You painted my
mother’s house! When I went to see
her the next day, she was so happy, she
was crying.’” Kessler said.
“That’s what drives me and so
many other volunteers to come back
year after year.”
There’s still time to volunteer
for this year’s event. The day
includes breakfast for all volunteers
and typically runs from 8 a.m. to
approximately noon.
Volunteers of all ages, skilled
and unskilled tradesmen, can e-mail
hanoon.2005@gmail.com. Donation
inquiries can be sent to tempecares@gmail.com

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