The event was sponsored by the Central California Chapter of the Carpet and Fabricare Institute (CFI) and held in Bakersfield, Calif.
Some 20 carpet-cleaning firms offered free services to the elderly, shut-ins, disabled or disadvantaged unable to afford professional carpet or upholstery cleaning. The emphasis: Provide clean and healthy carpets and upholstery to those who are at the greatest risk from an unhealthy indoor environment.
More than 20 nonprofit organizations selected applicants with the greatest need. The Bakersfield Fire Department teamed with cleaning crews to provide smoke detectors and safety kits to the residents as part of the health and safety theme.
The event started with a rally in the morning at the administrative offices of, New Advances For People With Disabilities. Twenty distinctively painted vans, prominently displaying IICRC, CFI and company logos, formed an impressive semicircle around the outdoor stage. Included in the assorted arc of vans and trailers was one of Bakersfield's newest fire engines and it's note worthy crew of Bakersfield's finest, and a 50-piece marching band, with cheerleaders and a flag team from Sequoia Middle School playing patriotic music as part of the pre-event entertainment.
The ceremony opened with a Boy Scout color guard presenting the flag for the Pledge of Allegiance. The band then played God Bless America for the very emotional and patriotic crowd of more than 100 well-wishers. All of this was taking place in the middle of the preparations for the Bakersfield Veterans Day Parade, which added a great deal of enthusiasm to the CFI rally.
Speakers included California State Assemblyman Dean Florez, Bakersfield City Councilman Mike Maggard and Bakersfield Fire Chief Ron Fraze. Speaking on behalf of the non-profit organizations was United Way of Kern County President Miriam Krehbiel. Assemblyman Florez and Councilman Maggard emphasized the need for community service to keep our communities healthy and prosperous.
A caravan of 20 trucks began its exodus down the streets of Bakersfield as a self appointed parade. The convoy attracted a lot of attention as it left the lot. "It's not often you see so many carpet cleaning vans in a single file," said one on-looker. After a few miles, the caravan began to splinter off to their job sites and to the homes that would be waiting for them.
After the jobs were completed, the cleaners met to exchange stories and to congratulate each other for a terrific day of cleaning and caring. With everyone back and the program complete, the cleaners reassembled for a barbeque at the home of one of the participants. The whole family was invited to share in the fun good food and the inevitable discussions of carpets and carpet cleaning stories of days gone by.
What an ending to a perfect day. I still have to wonder though, what happened here that allowed twenty long time competitors (and their families) to become such good friends. Could it be an Association with a vision? Maybe!