8 Lodians Who are Absolutely Loving Their Blocks

ABCD Love Your Blocks team, photo courtesy of Lodi Chamber

ABCD Love Your Blocks team, photo courtesy of Lodi Chamber

Sometimes you see a need for change, you get tired of waiting for someone else to do it, and you decide if it's going to get done you're going to have to do it yourself.  Well good news for Lodi residents who are looking to make changes in the Heritage District (formerly the East Side), because the City and the Lodi Chamber have your back. Two years ago the City of Lodi and the Lodi Chamber introduced a program called "ABCD Love Your Block" and in its second year the program has already doubled.  ABCD is a program that encourages people to be involved in the community by helping them with funding, through mini grants, and giving them the “know-how” to make the change they want to see. ABCD even provides groups with a "Collaborator" who can help the groups with one-on-one guidance. How nice is that?

If you're wondering (because I was) ABCD stands for





This is the second year of the ABCD program. The first year the program funded three projects and this year they gave out eight mini grants to help fund projects. Eight projects! That’s a huge jump in one year! That’s a lot of individuals who want to see some changes, and are tired of waiting for someone else to make those changes for them. In the coming newsletters, I want to look at each of these projects to share more information about why each one was so near and dear to that person's hearts. For now, here’s the summary of the eight winners who received mini grants.




A&W Family Bicycle Safety Day/ Rodeo

Team Lead: Kathryn Siddle

Kathryn and her crew will lead a family oriented bike event with free helmet checks, bike lock demonstrations, and new helmets for kids in need.


Little Free Library

Team Leads: Dave & Virginia Marken

Maybe you’ve already seen one of these cute, little libraries popping up around town like the one Dave and Virginia are going to build. The library that Dave and Virginia are building will go up right in their front yard. Little free libraries range in size from mailboxes to small huts, and this one will be stocked with books aimed at the kids who pass their yard every day. This couple lives close to LOEL so the books in the library will be targeted for 1st, 2nd, and 3rd grade kids in that area walking home from school. These kids aren't as close to Lodi Public Library, so this is a great opportunity to keep them excited about books.


Love Your Neighbor

Team Lead: Maria Garcia

This one is an idea most of us are familiar with, and that’s a neighborhood block party. Maria will get neighbors together to take on beautification projects on their block so that homes can show their beauty and be a point of pride among neighbors. It also gives neighbors a chance to work together and create bonds, which supports a safe neighborhood.


Water Safety Day

Team Lead: Jannae Stafford

This is part of a bigger, multi piece project Jannae is working on to provide free swimming lessons for local residents, life jacket fittings and river safety instructions. The chamber will support Jannae’s work by providing free swim passes to kids so they can access her classes.


Arts & Culture

Team Leads: Sandra Vargas & Sylvia Caracosa

The inspiration behind this project is really moving. Sylvia’s son was shot and killed 13 years ago by a 13 year-old kid who had too much time on his hands and got into some bad stuff. Sylvia doesn’t want any other parents to ever feel this pain, and she knows that by keeping kids busy and off the street, she can lower the likelihood of kids getting caught up in this type of crime. Sandra and Sylvia host an annual event to develop cultural heritage through food, dance and art to keep kids occupied, engaged and off the street. The chamber’s grant will pay for a sound system for this event.


English Course for Spanish Speakers

Teams Lead: Joaquin Hernandez

Chamber funding for this project goes to support a larger project Joaquin is working on. Joaquin knows that in order for anyone to have a good paying job, they must be able to speak English. His goal is that these classes can improve Hispanics' odds for getting jobs that pay better, and therefore empowers people to take control over their lives. Joaquin is still in need of Spanish teachers, the Chamber grant money will go towards teaching supplies.


Dream It, Be It

Team Lead: Terri Lee

This last project is a career day focused on secondary school girls. This career day is more than just walking around with a job application, this day is focused on helping girls make career choices, choosing appropriate, professional attire and makeup, and even practicing interview skills.


These are all so cool and I’m hoping I can learn more about each of the individual projects. I’m especially excited to learn about the inspiration behind each project (we got a sneak peak into a few) because that’s what makes the work really powerful.

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The ABCD Love Your Block Coordination Team is Sheri Aguilar, Patrice Clemmons and Carmen Ross.

ABCD Love Your Block Collaborators include Freddie Almazan, Natalie Bowman, Doug Bojack, Tanya Hansford, Jim Cordero, Davin Lozano, Kyla Cathey and Erica Herold. I know a few of these people and you would be lucky to have anyone of them offering a helping hand to your project.

Thanks to Sheri Aguilar who helped me compile this information. If you would like to learn more about the Chamber’s ABCD program, click here to check out their website.