A group of RDO Equipment team members in California spent a Saturday in late April partnering with a local nonprofit to restore a historically significant but neglected cemetery back to a state of respect.
Woodlawn Memorial Park in Compton, CA, was established in 1871. As the final resting place for local historical figures, area founders, and veterans of conflicts from as far back as the Civil War, it is a piece of local history.
Located almost literally in the backyard of the RDO store in Rancho Domniguez, it is a place Regional Aftermarket Manager Colby Gergovich said he has passed hundreds of times without thinking twice, and he’s not alone. Despite its significance, over the years, Woodlawn’s ownership and financial status declined and the cemetery grounds fell into a state of disrepair, overgrown with weeds and filled with litter. But recently, the nonprofit One Section at A Time stepped up to take ownership of Woodlawn and turn it around.
In fact, it was when Rancho Dominguez Store Manager Ruben Valenzuela approached a group working at Woodlawn out of curiosity one day that he met Celestina Bishop, Founder of One Section at A Time. Members of Celestina’s family are buried in Woodlawn, and it is her mission, and that of her nonprofit, to return it to a state of honor, and bring a sense of respectful closure to other families who have laid loved ones to rest there.
For the RDO team in Rancho Dominguez, it could not have been a better opportunity to make an impact.
“We’re always looking for ways to get involved and give back to the community,” said Regional Aftermarket Manager Colby Gergovich. “This is right in our own backyard and it’s something we knew we could help with.”
Colby organized a group of team members to participate in One Section at a Time’s Mow-and-Go monthly event, where members of the community are invited to help with maintenance at the cemetery. He also went one step further, connecting with Michael Ligtenberg, Sales Manager for consumer products out of the Riverside store, who agreed to donate a mower to the nonprofit.
“I’m super proud that RDO empowers us to do these things,” Colby said. “It was something the Rancho team wanted to do, and we were able to run with it. It’s a big deal to donate a piece of equipment, but it’s all part of our culture, being able to speak up and go after opportunities to help the community.”
On the morning of the event, six Rancho team members were joined by Michael and Delivery Driver Jose Perez, who left from Indio, picked up six mowers — including the one to be donated — in Riverside, and met the group at Woodlawn in Compton. Within four hours, the group mowed 11 acres, a task that otherwise would have taken as much as a day.
Celestina and the other One Section at a Time members expressed their gratitude for RDO’s contribution, and Colby said the team will be on the lookout for future opportunities to help. In addition to Woodlawn’s local significance, Colby was struck with an immediate respect for Celestina and her mission.
“Woodlawn Memorial Park is an important part of local history and it had been all but abandoned until Celestina decided to do something about it, and now she and the organization are out there doing it.” he said. “That’s the type of effort we at RDO can always get behind.”
RDO Equipment Co. embodies a stakeholder philosophy, serving all those who make our business what it is. See the ways our team members impact the communities in which they work and live.