Buchanan is one of those members who has been a volunteer her whole life. Everything started in 1964 with the PTA school club one year after she moved into the city with her kids and husband. She is already 81, but doesn’t complain or show any signs of wanting to retire. Actually, she is a member of at least three clubs and helps in all of them.
If it wasn’t for the voluntarism, Buchanan said, this community would not be what it is today. “Downey is a lovely community because of the volunteer work that many people have done. The longer you are in Downey, the more you will appreciate it.”
When I asked her about the lack of participation of the newer generations as volunteers in Downey, she is too polite and doesn’t have any criticism for the people that do not get involved in any organization. She knows that raising a family is very important and emphasizes that currently there is some participation and every club is responsible for their membership.
Bobbie Bruce, the current Coordinating Council President, agrees with Buchanan that at least for now, there are enough volunteers for the current clubs, but soon, they may need some help. The Coordinating Council reached its highest point with 110 cubs when it was born in the 70’s, but today it barely reaches 40 clubs or less. They meet once a month and in order to encourage participation, the Club recognizes the Downey residents that contribute their time to the city as a volunteer.
For Salvador Cervantes, a Toastmaster member and resident of Downey for over 30 years, his concern as a member of the Coordinating Council is to make sure that the new generation of Downey is going to be ready when the current leadership has to pass the baton to them.
“I want to see more young people getting involve. We have some, but we need more,” said Cervantes, who is also a member of several clubs in the area. “I see the need for new blood to develop the skills in leadership and in communication which are very important to continue the leadership of the clubs.
Cervantes considers that if nothing is done now, there is always the risk that more clubs will continue struggling with membership and some will disappear and this cannot happen in Downey. He underlines that voluntarism and the level of participation of Downey’s residents in organizations is what makes the city unique.
Downey has been characterized by being one of the most philanthropic cities in the southwest of Los Angeles County, supporting its residents and non-residents in areas that may be life changing for many, such as receiving a scholarship to go to college, clothing to go to prom, food for the homeless, support for the elderly and for after-school programs, among others.
There are also many organizations like the Aerospace Legacy Foundation, Assistance League, Chamber of Commerce, the Historical Society, the Rose Float Association, the Symphonic Society, Foodhelp, Friends of Downey Library, and Women Club among others that for decades represent what the city is about; the backbone of Downey, added Cervantes.
However, all this support has been possible thanks to the helping hands of volunteers in non-profit organizations that are committed to maintain and improve the standard of living of the residents of the city and its surroundings areas.
That is why, even Rick Rodriguez, the mayor of the city, is working on plans to support the Coordinating Council in order to avoid any duplication of efforts in one particular area. Unfortunately, this reporter wasn’t able to get a clear vision so far about the mayor’s plan regarding the Coordinating Council.