The Day I Met Michael Sheppard
Michael Sheppard is many things. A Montebello native and resident, a former inmate, a soon-to-be grandfather, currently experiencing homelessness. On one Sunday morning, of the things you can tell and not tell by looking at someone, one thing stood out - he was on the corner of Bluff Road and Washington Boulevard at 8:15 a.m. with a broom and a bucket sweeping the sidewalk. No adjacent businesses or homes he could be working on, and near a steep hill going down to the river grounds and a bridge - he was doing this for the community. More on Michael later.
September 12 marked the return of Pick n' Stroll ("P&S"). A dozen of us gathered at the Rio San Gabriel Battlefield Historical Monument. After Chris Vargas, President of the Montebello Historic Society, gave a brief lesson on the battle back in 1847 that took place to the monument's east, we collected our materials and began our march around South Montebello. Over the next two hours we walked along Bluff, Date, Greenwood, and Washington picking up debris large and small. We saw beautiful houses and even stopped by to show love to Fire Station 56. I can't report the event was without danger. Of very serious concern were three expended medical needles between Washington and Date. They were reported to the city immediately and volunteers were instructed to leave them for professional cleanup. As we moved on, I couldn't help but recognize this danger was something families in neighboring apartments and homes had to deal with every day.
This brings me back to Michael. He talked about a hard life growing up near Bluff Road. Now with a new outlook on life, he said he just wanted to give back to the community. Without being embarrassed about picking up trash or asking anyone for permission, he set to work on making an impact. One person can inspire a multitude. P&S is about togetherness. Once a month volunteers assemble to walk for wellness, get to know their neighbors, and beautify the community along the way.
Join the Montebello Volunteer Corps next time on Sunday, October 10 at 8:15 am. We will be hosting P&S at both the Sanchez Adobe and Battle of Rio San Gabriel Monument. It is suitable for all ages, but requires parental supervision for children under 15. RSVPs not necessary, but appreciated at firstname.lastname@example.org. Gloves, bags, and trash pickers provided, and donations are welcomed.
Special thanks to our dignitaries and distinguished guests:
Central Basin Municipal Water District Director Martha Camacho-Rodriguez
Treasurer Ralph Gutierrez
Commissioner Marlene Ramirez
Commissioner David Perez
Montebello Historic Society President Chris Vargas
Dona Maria Casilda Soto de Lobo (Kathleen Rabago)