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Part III...Summer of Hope: work together

Sunnyside Transformation Yakima Valley as part of its Summer of Hope is sponsoring a program that brings businesses together with community organizations and projects.

The program is called the 100 Points of Light Initiative and the intent of the program is to help local businesses better support the efforts of community focused organizations and projects, according to Sunnyside Transformation Lower Valley Director Roberto Matus.

He said, "It can be any organization or project."

Matus believes many business owners do not know how they can become more involved in supporting community programs. As a result businesses often are left without opportunities to help efforts that improve the community.

"An example is the Sunnyside Grid Kids and Orange Dairy Service," he said.

Matus said Orange Dairy Service was looking for opportunities to become more involved in the community.

The Grid Kid program wanted to grow, but needed both financial and volunteer support.

The two entities were brought together to fill those needs.

Max Saldana organizes and coaches the local Grid Kid program. He said, "The theme is to work together as a community, trying to implement business support."

He continued, "It's about a unified community, showing others there is a strong support system in place."

Saldana believes the support of Orange Dairy Service inspires both the youngsters and the parents involved in his program.

"It gets them excited," he said.

The businesses in Sunnyside are important to the success of the community.

Saldana said showing support for a program or project makes others want to become involved.

"We all want good things for the community...not just Sunnyside, but the entire Lower Valley," he said.

Matus said the plan of those involved in the 100 Points of Light Initiative is to knock on doors. He said volunteers of Sunnyside Transformation Lower Valley will visit local businesses, asking business owners what is important to them.

"If they say baseball, we will do the heavy lifting...we will make the calls and find a baseball program the business can support," he said.

Matus said his organization will help business owners interested in beautifying the pathway between Sunnyside and Grandview if that is what the business cares about.

"We will foster the relationship between the business and the program," he said.

Because Matus and others believe it is time to "stop talking about the darkness and be the light," Sunnyside Transformation Lower Valley believes the 100 Points of Light Initiative is important.

"It's about taking action," said Saldana.

Matus agreed, stating, "It's about taking ownership in the community...we need to ask ourselves what our role is in the community and how we can be a part of the solution."

Saldana said, "I believe in action and that is why I have been involved in the Grid Kid program for 20 years."

He said it is time for everyone to come together and become committed to the welfare of the entire community.

Saldana continued, saying the focus needs to change from an adversarial viewpoint on the problems of the community. He said the community must make an allegiance to support one another.

Matus added, "When a business supports the community, the community supports the businesses...it shows businesses are not just here to make money."

That is why Sunnyside Transformation Lower Valley is asking local businesses to invest their time, not just their money to support organizations and projects.

"Volunteers can be the spark and the light...the more people focused on being the light, the more the light will shine and the more who will want to be a part of it," said Matus.

For those interested in offering their time and support to local organizations and projects, he said they do not have to wait for a visit from Sunnyside Transformation Lower Valley.

He can be reached at 305-1956.

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