Help reimagine Mack Road

Jeff vonKaenel

All days are not created equal. For 5,000 Sacramentans, Saturday, April 26, 2014, will be a very happy day. That will be the day that they, the lucky ones, get to work their tails off sanding, painting, planting, fixing and performing numerous other tasks during the ReImagine Mack Road project.

I am totally serious. Even though I absolutely hate—and I do mean hate—sanding, painting, planting, fixing and similar tasks, I will also have one of my happiest days next year doing these very things. The reason is simple: I will not be doing it for myself. And, in addition, there is joy when you are doing something good with 4,999 other people.

Next April, thousands of soon-to-be-giddy Sacramento residents will fix up parks, restore playgrounds and upgrade a selected group of homes in the Mack Road area. This innovative neighborhood makeover is coordinated by the Mack Road Partnership, the Mormon Helping Hands program and Rebuilding Together Sacramento.

I myself have experienced the good deeds of the Latter-day Saints. One Friday evening, I picked up my little ones at a weather-beaten YMCA day-care center. On Monday morning, I dropped off the same little ones at a freshly painted and newly landscaped day-care center. The transformation was wonderful. I could not believe it.

Even better, a group of SN&R staff members participated in a Rebuilding Together home-improvement project in Oak Park. As I mentioned earlier, I hate home-improvement projects. But since this was an SN&R project, I grudgingly agreed to participate. When I arrived, there were already dozens of people at work on the run-down home. Sitting in the driveway on a plastic chair was the elderly widowed homeowner. She had a look of amazement on her face.

And her feeling was understandable. In the next few hours, the house that she had been living in for decades went through an incredible transformation, as if her fairy godmother had waved a magic wand. The whole backyard was fixed up and landscaped. The dangerous wiring was replaced. There was at least one donated appliance. And the whole house was painted.

Knowing the limitations of my skills, I offered to paint the inside of a closet. Fortunately, it was a dark closet. But at the end of the day, the change in the house was unbelievable. When the amazed widow walked through her new house, she broke down in tears. And so did most of the tired but happy Rebuilding Together fairy godmothers, including myself.

So prepare to be happy. Bring your family, your friends, your faith buddies and your work buddies. Call the head of the Mack Road Partnership and chief fairy godmother Jenna Abbott at (916) 706-3833, or email her to get more information on how to increase your happiness. See you on April 26.

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About the Author

Jeff vonKaenel
Jeff vonKaenel is the president, CEO and majority owner of the News & Review newspapers in Sacramento, Chico and Reno.