Chelsea Member Of The Year
Mike became involved with TND as a participant in Neighborcircles, a series of dinners held in a community members' home. Prior to that, Mike claims he was "in the dark, not knowing how to get involved". He was working two jobs, hardly interacted with his neighbors, and didn't really know much about what was going on in the community. Mike explained that TND provided the tools to stay connected and once he became connected, everything changed. He met other neighbors, started participating in countless events like safety walks, neighborhood meetings and clean ups, and in 2007 he co-founded a resident group called the Community Enhancement Team. Mike says he has been on a journey -- eager to learn and eager to bridge the divisions within the community and this desire was apparent one day by the soon-to-be Box District Park.
Before the City developed the Box District Park, there was a North Bellingham Hill Revitalization Plan that provided an opportunity for residents, TND and Chelsea City officials to talk about their visions for change in the neighborhood. Creating safe spaces for children to play was one of the priorities identified by area residents. Not long after the North Bellingham Hill Plan was completed, Mike joined a group of stakeholders that helped to design the Box District Park. The planning group took a field trip to what was then an empty lot at the end of Gerrish Avenue. While people were talking, Mike noticed a woman and her children on the outskirts looking on. Mike crossed the street and walked up to the woman. The woman was curious about what was going on, but she didn't speak English so she was watching from the side. Mike described the plans that TND and the City had for the area -- that they were going to build housing and a park that would be open to the community for her kids to enjoy. He then brought the woman and her children over to see the proposed blueprint of the Box District Park.
Jay Ash, who was Chelsea’s City Manager at the time, was at the park that day. Soon after he brought Mike on to led recycling efforts for the City. On any given day, you are likely to see Mike Sandoval walking around picking up trash, but this isn't because it is his job; it is because he believes in taking care of his community both on and off the clock. Together with members of the Community Enhancement Team, a former dumping ground at the corner of Willow and Marlborough was transformed. Since adopting this area in 2016, the group has transformed it into a beautiful space filled with sunflowers. For the past three years, Mike Sandoval has visited this site 3-5 times per week to collect trash, weed or water the plants. This commitment illustrates Mike's dedication to his City, and the beautiful sunflowers that transform the area during the summer is as Mike would say "a beautiful example of what the community can accomplish through connecting.
Mike, "Mr. Chelsea" as some would call him, constantly pushes himself and the community to strive for better things. On behalf of TND and the City of Chelsea, thank you Mike for all your hard work over the years.