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Celebrating cleanliness and the garden Richard Peña | Sat, Mar 29 2014 12:00 PM

When we conjure visions of the president of an organization, be it business, political, social or anything else, we see this person in a power suit, sliding behind a shiny mahogany desk, dispensing orders right and left.  That, at least, is the vision that is going to be given to us by some television shows. It doesn’t exactly fit the requirements of a reality show but it is supposed to be entertaining.

Things, however, may not be as they seem.  In Bonita we have the president of an organization, longtime valley resident Glennalie Coleman, who truly fits the bill as an interesting person. We have the Bonita Valley Garden Club, an organization that has been around for many years and has been showcased many times. 

But the scenario that has been given to me about one instance is quite different. Picture, if you will, a group of people, mostly ladies, meeting in the parking lot near the post office in Bonita.  The ladies are dressed for business, it is true, but it consists of something that one would wear on the trail. And that is because that is where they are heading.

The occasion is the weekly chore that has been undertaken by these members of the club.  Each Thursday they don the costume used in clean-up, gather the few but necessary tools required and start the pick-up of trash and other debris on the Stephanie Rossi Memorial Walking Trail. It starts near the junction of Sweetwater Road and Central Avenue. The ladies are led by the garden club president.

I met with Coleman the other day and we spoke of the garden club and the many other things that have occupied her life in the more than 50 years since she arrived in the valley.

First off she told me a little bit about the trail itself, something that I think I knew but had forgotten. The late Stephanie Rossi was a longtime resident of the valley who loved the trail. As you might guess it is part of the San Diego County Regional Park and occupies a large segment of the valley floor. Rossi died on that trail one day when an errant motorcycle rider missed the curve on Sweetwater Road and hit her head on.

One of the objectives of the garden club is to make the area as beautiful and as pleasant as can be. A good start is the trail where many users lose their sense of good neighborliness and strew the area with debris. We also learn that it is a good time for a little comradeship and perhaps even planning for some of the many events that are on the club’s schedule.

The Bonita Garden Club has two activities coming up, one, in fact, already here. Some of the members of the club are designing flower arrangements that will each be paired with a piece of art currently in the Bonita Museum. This has been done in the past and the imagination and flower arrangements of the garden artists combined with a painting is outstanding.

The other activity is the annual garden tour that is coming up in May. This tour showcases gardens from a half dozen or so residences in the valley that shows the variations that a family garden might take. The latter is a fundraiser for the club that aids in the scholarships that are awarded to students in our area.

Coleman shares two titles, perhaps three, that are rich in Americana, that is, history of portions of the country.  She was born and grew up in Oklahoma but, as a very young girl, the family moved to California settling in Reseda, part of the high desert country. She thus, in the period of a few years, became first an “Okie” followed very quickly by a “valley girl,” distinctive titles of a very rich period in American history.

I have known Glennalie since the late 1970s. In addition to the garden club she has been active in the Republican Woman’s Club, the Bonita Business and Professional Association, the Bonita Museum and a few cooking organizations. As for the latter, she is a professional chef who for many years ran a catering service and wrote countless cooking columns. She truly is one of those interesting persons of which we love to write.

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