Jackie Holmes, El Dorado Park Volunteer


“I much rather live in a place where there are differences than a homogenized community where everything is blah.”

Jackie Holmes tours El Dorado Park. She says the area only consists of 2 1/2 blocks. It is amazing how such a small area can cause so many problems.

Meet Jackie Holmes. She volunteers to improve El Dorado Park by cooperating with several organizations. El Dorado Park is one of the neighborhoods targeted in efforts to revitalize the Fresno State area.

Jackie was born and raised on a 40 acre walnut ranch in Porterville. She moved to Fresno when she transferred from Porterville Junior College to Fresno State in 1996. There she graduated with a degree in Criminology.

Jackie got her first taste as a volunteer when she started Habitat for Humanity in Fresno. She eventually worked full-time as a volunteer for the organization. Jackie now spends most of her free time walking around El Dorado Park to find new ways to cooperate with residents and property owners in improving the apartments.

Jackie says she volunteers because it gives her the satisfaction knowing she has contributed to something. “Volunteering is what I am and what I do,” she says. She is the oldest of five kids and had a lot of responsibilities helping out on the ranch as a child. “I grew up thinking that everyone has something valuable they can contribute.” She learned to detect what a person can contribute and connecting them to the right resourses.



Wesley United Methodist Church has a basketball court and a Boys and Girls Club in their parking lot. A lot of children in the neighborhood depend on the church for something to do after school.

Jackie lives near El Dorado Park. She started to volunteer in the area when she saw the potential it had to be integrated. “I’m a connector,” Jackie says, “when I see resources, I make the connection.”

Jackie has regularly been attending Wesley United Methodist Church in El Dorado Park for about two months. When she started going to the Pink Cow, a thrift store run by the church, she realized how many church members knew her husband and decided to attend Sunday service . The more she attended the church, the more involved she became with efforts to revitalize the area.

Jackie says she loves the action at Wesley and loves being involved. “I haven’t felt this way since I started Habitat for Humanity,” she says.



Jackie says the kids want their neighborhood to look beautiful. She is thinking of new ways for the children to be more involved with improving El Dorado Park while expressing their creativity.

Jackie has spent a lot of time interacting with the residents of El Dorado Park. She tries to talk to people on a more personal, positive level instead of talking about their living conditions. She says she does not try to be forward initially. The first couple of times she sees a particular individual, she looks them straight in the eye and nods. She’ll sometimes greet them or ask how they are. She tries to remember names, where people were and what they were doing. She uses this information to string things together. Most people nod back and reciprocate the greeting. “Some people I have no influence over,” she says, “but all I can do is be a decent being to them.”



Jackie has an idea for people to be hired to clean and paint dumpsters at a lower cost than it would take to buy new dumpsters. That money earned can go to nearby organizations.

Jackie has several ideas on how the community can improve El Dorado Park without waiting for the government to take charge:

Strengthen Communication

Jackie says the biggest priority in improving El Dorado Park should be communication. There are several organizations involved in improving El Dorado Park, including: Fresno State, Boys and Girls Club, CDC, and the property owners group. “There’s always a revolving door of people who want to be involved,” Jackie says. Although there is much enthusiasm to revitalize the area, it is difficult to go forward when communication between the organizations is not completely there. She thinks it would be better if there was a place groups could report to one another like a Web site.

Build to Suit

Jackie strongly opposes gentrification. She says that residents need someplace to live and if you kick them out, they will only go somewhere else in Fresno. Instead, she thinks, apartments should be redesigned to suit the tenants’ culture. For example, some cultures prefer a big open space instead of multiple bedrooms. This will make the apartments more livable for the existing tenants without kicking them out and seeking new renters.

Bring Good Investors in

If the government continues to fine property owners for code violations, Jackie thinks all of the bad investors will be scared away. The area will then improve if good investors take over the properties. Jackie says investors do have an incentive to buy a property in El Dorado Park. They would have a lot of resources to work with. There are several organizations, such as The Boys and Girls Club, Fresno and the church that are very willing to work with property owners. Jackie would like to see more investors involved with El Dorado Park. There are about 35 different properties in the neighborhood, but only 4 to 5 owners have expressed interest in helping revitalize the area.

Reward Good Behavior

Jackie says there are easy, inexpensive ways people can convince residents to take part in improving the area, such as an reward program. This program point out the nice little things residents do. For example, maintaining a good lawn can be awarded with a giftcard to Starbucks. Before and after photos can be posted on a Web site or at the church. “People like it when they do something good and someone notices,” Jackie says.



Jackie says the city government has done a good job cleaning up the alleys in the past month. Several citations have been handed out for code violations. She thinks El Dorado Park can be completely clean in two years.

Jackie says the most important thing volunteers can do is to make sure their interests and capabilities line up with their work. “The giving and taking has to create a whole,” she says.

It is easy to feel obligated to volunteer on a regular basis. To avoid this, Jackie says you should be upfront about what your schedule is. A good volunteer coordinator will be able to work around your schedule.

If you are looking for volunteer work, Jackie says you can contact Hands On of Central California, churches and non profit organizations for volunteer opportunities. “Talk to others about what makes you feel good to do,” Jackie says, “and the connections will happen.”

You might not influence anyone, Jackie says, but at least you did what should have been done. Jackie thinks that if everyone became more involved, there would be a great improvement in most neighborhoods.



Very few owners have recently painted or re-stucco the exterior of their properties. Jackie thinks improving the exteriors of apartments can go a long way for a low cost.

Jackie says she never thought of Fresno in terms of whether it was a good or bad place to live. “I think in terms of my life is here and I live well,” she says. She stays in Fresno because her family is here.

Jackie likes that Fresno is a pluralistic community. “I much rather live in a place where there are differences than a homogenized community where everything is blah,” she says. Jackie thinks Fresno’s diversity is what makes our area unique and rich.

Jackie says Fresno does have its problems, but doubts there is any town that doesn’t. She looks on the positive side and says this is a hopeful time for Fresno. There are a lot of opportunities for Fresno to change for the better. “The old ways that didn’t work are so broken that there is room for new ways to emerge,” she says.


Have a lovely day in Fresno!

Veronica Stumpf


10 Responses to “Jackie Holmes, El Dorado Park Volunteer”
  1. greg sandor says:

    hi veronica,
    i am trying to get a message to/ or contact Jackie Holmes.
    My name is Greg Sandor, she knows me quite well, we worked with habitat for humanity together.
    if you can get her my email, or phone no,
    that would be great,
    thanks, Greg

  2. CS says:

    I can appreciate Ms. Holmes’ good intentions, but I don’t understand how she can cite diversity as one of El Dorado Park’s assets. I’ve lived right on the border of the area for many years, and I can attest that it is almost exclusively Hispanic has very little diversity in terms of income per family. In fact, in the time I spent living in a suburban area of Clovis, my neighbors represented a much wider variety of cultures and income levels. I’m not saying that El Dorado Park’s ethnic makeup is the reason for its problems, I’m just questioning Ms. Holmes’ apparent implication that “homogenized” must only mean “white people.”

    • Veronica Stumpf says:

      Ideal diversity - they kind I would celebrate - would involve different levels of income AND cultural backgrounds. You are correct, El Dorado Park does lack diversity in income. From my observations, as well as Jackie’s, El Dorado Park is home to Hispanics, whites, blacks, Asians, etc. A lot of these families are first or second-generation immigrants and are closer to their cultural roots. I think gives her a reason to celebrate the diversity. Still, they mostly fall under the same income bracket.

    • Lydia Alvarez says:

      You should take a look at the community a little closer. The gardener’s of the El Dorado Park’s Community Garden are very diverse. They represent a sample size of it’s rich ethnic diversity. El Dorado Park Community Development Corporation’s Website can tell you more about the population and its history. They also have a Facebook. The community has a large population of immigrants making the neighborhood less standardized than other neighborhoods. Homogenized doesn’t mean ” White people” as they too make up the El Dorado Park Community. El Dorado Park’s residents are almost all low income but that has to do with the population’s lack of education and a lack of opportunity. The people of El Dorado Park are passionate about revitalizaion. They are trying to improve the community for their families.

  3. David Harrington says:

    I lived in one of those apartments when I was 3 in 1974/75. My mom was a student at Fresno St. Lived right on Bulldog ln across the street from Stone Soup. It was called the Woodwinds Apts. Stone Soup area was just one big empty field naturally in 1974. I hope they do clean up the area. Such a nice area back in the 70′s.

    • Veronica Stumpf says:

      David, thank you for sharing your experience!

      In the past couple of years, Fresno State students have done a lot to improve the area. I’m not directly involved with their efforts but I do come across articles. For example, a playground and community garden have opened, student organizations volunteer at the neighborhood church to serve dinner…the list goes one. You can read more about their efforts, here.

  4. David Harrington says:

    I forgot to mention that there used to be swimming pools in the centers of those apartments in 1974. Now they’re just green ovals of grass you can see on google earth. I wonder if they’ll have pools again for the residents.

  5. Toni Wagner says:

    PUHS Class of 1964 having their 50th Class reunion. We need your information…address, phone, email. Would you reply to me at [email protected]. The reunion is October 4, 2014. Glad we found you and hope you can make the reunion.

    Toni Wagner

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