Beautification Committee celebrates community facelift

Sean C. Morgan

The Sweet Home Beautification Committee honored Sweet Home volunteers with a volunteer appreciation dinner on Jan. 19.

The committee, an all-volunteer organization, maintains the median strips throughout town solely through volunteer time. It also maintains numerous other flowers throughout the city and at the entrances.

“We couldn’t do it without you guys,” Craig Martin, a member of the committee, told those gathered at Thursday’s dinner at Fir Lawn Lutheran Church. As city manager, he received a call from “Good Morning America,” which wants to interview him and Mayor Craig Fentiman for a segment on small towns, he said.

The producer told him he would be talking about what makes Sweet Home such a special place to live, Martin said looking at all of the volunteers gathered at the dinner. “I really just truly wish they could just be here right now. That’s what it is about Sweet Home.”

Economic Development Director Brian Hoffman said that volunteerism is why he decided to take his job here.

This group of volunteers does important work for economic development too, Hoffman told the volunteers. He thought about the meaning of beautification, what it is, what comes to mind about it.

It’s photo ops, he said. It’s educating the community about the image it wants to project. It’s hard work.

Around the room, volunteers said it softens the appearance, it’s stewardship of God’s beautiful world, and it’s working with other folks and making friends.

One volunteer talked about a friend from Portland who drives down Main Street before heading back down Long Street to the volunteer’s house when she visits. There isn’t anything like Sweet Home where she is from, and she enjoys the pleasant feeling and colors.

People driving through have even stopped at The New Era and asked who they should call to thank for the work, said Alice Grovom, who organized the Beautification Committee several years ago.

“It changed the looks of the community,” Grovom said. “When we are working out there, they stop and say thank you.”

“Your hard work is really making a difference,” Hoffman said, and his list of what beautification means barely touches the surface of what the committee and its volunteers do in this community.

It definitely touches on his work, he said. When helping plan a tour for the new medical school staff, he suggested holding off the tour until the flower baskets were hanging because they add so much to Sweet Home’s image.

“My decision to come to Sweet Home was because of the volunteerism,” Hoffman said. “Things happen in Sweet Home because of volunteers. It takes a passionate person to make a difference. The Beautification Committee is probably the best example of it in the community.”