Volunteer Spotlight: Cully Park's Wendy Yah Canul and Teresa Raigoza

The Let Us Build Cully Park project is transforming a former landfill into a brand new park in NE Portland. Cully is Portland’s most diverse, park-deprived neighborhood. Wendy Yah Canul lives in Cully with her family. “To tell you the truth, I really got excited when they said there would be a big park nearby. There's a lot of beautiful parks, but I'm not able to get to them because I don't drive,” Wendy said.

 Wendy Yah Canul with three of her children Yurel, Kiara, and Mario.

Wendy Yah Canul with three of her children Yurel, Kiara, and Mario.

Another Cully neighbor, Teresa Raigoza is also looking forward to having the new park accessible to the community by foot. “It has beautiful views looking out over the airport. It's a beautiful space, up a small hill so you can see out. It's also really big, like 25 acres,” Teresa said.

Both Wendy and Teresa have been involved in the development of Cully Park from early on. The Let’s Build Cully Park coalition, led by nonprofit partner Verde, has been committed to providing opportunities for community input and investment by local residents. Wendy and Teresa have become extremely active local community members, and their families are deeply connected to the park project. They have participated in community walking tours, soil testing, clean up, planting, design and planning meetings, as well as fundraising.

“I like that the community and other people are invited to meetings to share their opinion. They felt like they were taken into account as part of this project and really listened to. That's a nice process, to be heard,” Wendy said. “My oldest daughter has been involved since she was two years old. I have pictures of her picking up trash in our neighborhood. She's thirteen now.” Last summer, Wendy and her daughter Kairi Valle spoke to Cully Park donors and guests at a Portland Parks Foundation and Verde event, sharing their convictions about why Cully Park is needed.

Teresa also serves on the board of Verde. “I'm involved on the ground in the community, but I'm also on the board. So I get to see both sides and how the process is moving forward,” Teresa said.

 Teresa Raigoza leads a bike ride with ABC (Andando en Bicicletas en Cully).

Teresa Raigoza leads a bike ride with ABC (Andando en Bicicletas en Cully).

When the new park is complete, Wendy and her children will be able to walk to the new soccer fields and play areas. They are already taking advantage of the community gardens at Cully Park, where her family grows chiles, tomatoes, cilantro, and other typical foods in her family’s cuisine.

Teresa and her family are also looking forward to walking and playing at Cully Park. “The future park has really been moving forward. Before it was just an abandoned piece of land and now look at it. We hope that it gets finished soon.”

Cully Park is scheduled for completion around June 2018. Learn more about the project and how you can donate or get involved at the Let Us Build Cully Park website.  

Thanks to Teresa and Wendy for their time, and to Anna Gordon for providing interpretation.