JOHNNY FLORES, JR/Coachella Unincorporated
MECCA — Claudia Guevara was recently sworn in as a member of the Mecca Community Council, continuing her family’s tradition of making a difference in the unincorporated community they call home.
“I have been living in Mecca for the past five years, and I have seen how the city has changed,” said Guevara, who joined the community council on May 8, 2013. “Then, I have also seen how the city has been plagued with problems, that range from insufficient transportation to environmental issues, that affect me directly.”
Although the Guevara family was not looking to get involved in the city of Mecca, they quickly became active members of the community. Her husband, Eduardo Guevara, began his journey with the issues involving Western Environmental motivated by the deteriorating health of his family. Their son, Eduardo Guevara, Jr., 12, has been working alongside his father for years now.
Although she has been fighting for environmental justice along with her husband and son, joining the Mecca Community Council is something she is undertaking on her own. The role of the Mecca Community Council is to advise the Riverside County Board of Supervisors on a wide variety of community concerns, including public health, safety, and public works. While strictly advisory in nature, the council’s voice is heard by both the Board and other important entities such as the Planning Commission.
Guevara joins Nachhattar Chandi, Jaime Gonzales and Maria Machuca on the council.
“We needed people committed to be there — not only to listen to the community, but to get informed and, in turn, inform the community. Since nobody stepped forward, the natural step when I was approached… was to say ‘yes,’” said Guevara.
Guevara plans to first listen, learn how to conduct the meetings, get to know the agencies involved, and share this information with other community members. Meetings will no longer be cancelled because of a lack of quorum, a problem in the past. In addition, Guevara hopes to make the council a more engaged one.
“We need to address them and since people already tell me about the problems they see in Mecca, now they can go to the council and express them there, knowing that we are there to listen to them.”
When asked what her involvement means to her active family, she answered, “It was a natural step for me to follow. Now we all see things from a different perspective-we will not let someone else decide and act (or not act) for us. We will speak, work and act for ourselves and for our fellow residents.”
Guevara wants residents of Mecca to become more informed of what happens in their community.
“What interests me? To hear about issues in Mecca and work to make this city a better place for my son to grow up.”
She added, “Like it or not, it affects you in either a good or bad way. Get the facts, make questions, and decide for yourselves.”
The next Mecca Community Council meeting will take place September 11, 2013, from 6-8 p.m. at the Mecca Library.
If you have any questions about this council or how you can get involved, email Claudia Guevara at [email protected]