Jeff Nevarez, Kennedale’s People’s Champion – How Can We All Become One

Every city needs an active civic involvement. Jeff Nevarez explains how we can get involved in our cities and have the time to do so.

08/25/2021
6 minutes
Adam Petrek
Jeff Nevarez, Kennedale’s People’s Champion – How Can We All Become One
Jeff Nevarez

Ask not what your city can do for you – ask what you can do for your city. Though most of the responsibility for the quality of city life falls on the local government and public agencies, we all have the power to change our cities for the better. It can be just picking up trash when you go for a walk, starting a public library in the park, or even organizing large community events.

I interviewed Jeff Nevarez, one of the citizens that lead by example in serving their community in Kennedale, Texas. We talked about getting more residents involved, where we can start, and how we can leave a positive mark on our city.

Introducing Jeff Nevarez

  • Kennedale’s Chairman of the Parks Board
  • Chairman of the Board of Adjustments.
  • Director of Concert in the Park, an annual music/vendor city festival and food drive for the community food bank.
  • Director of Art in the Park, a festival celebrating local artists and musicians.
  • One of the community cooks at the Thursday Night Community Dinner for anyone hungry for a good free meal.
  • Owner of two successful local businesses – a tech company for small businesses and a local magazine, Kennedale News
  • Last but not least, Jeff is a devoted husband and a father to four who recently became a foster parent to a fifth child.
Jeff's Family

We All Have the Same Amount of Time

I had to ask Jeff where does he find the time to do all this? Jeff smiled, ‘I do not sleep.’ He works day and night, but he makes sure he dedicates enough quality time to his wife and each of his children. ‘There is a lot of personal stuff that a lot of people do, that you can just give up,’ said Jeff.

For example, he doesn’t watch TV, with a single exception of Star Trek on Netflix. I had to ask the mandatory ‘Kirk or Picard?’ to which he replied, ‘Picard all the way, but Sisko is my favorite.’

Jeff went on to explain that all the board and initiative meetings are only once or twice a month, ‘It doesn’t take up a lot of time.’ Getting involved with your community and lending a hand doesn’t have to be another full-time job. Even if each of us takes only a tiny step towards the betterment of our city, it will accumulate to a great leap. There is no such thing as having no time. We all have the same amount of time, and it’s only up to us how we prioritize.

Getting Involved

For Jeff, it started in his late 20s by getting involved in the national debate at his college. He realized that he wanted to do something local on the city side. After studies, he answered an open call for boards and committees for the city of Kennedale. He got put on BOA (Board of Adjustments) and the Art & Culture Board.

He kept getting involved in more boards and committees and eventually started adding his own things, like the annual Concert in the Park.

It may be something as simple as go for a walk in the park and pick up trash. I do it with my kids every time.

I asked Jeff what I could do? ‘Rotary club, get involved, ask them what they do,’ said Jeff. ‘If you are a church person, go to your church,’ he continues, ‘ask your local leaders. If you are into IT, you can become a part of the IT advisory board, and it snowballs from there.’

Each of us can lend a helping hand to our city, regardless of profession, age, or skill level. ‘It may be something as simple as go for a walk in the park and pick up trash,’ said Jeff, ‘I do it with my kids every time.’ They have the KKB (Keep Kennedale Beautiful) initiative. You can take part in gardening in your city while socializing and enjoying the nice weather at the same time. ‘There is always something going on. If there is not, start one,’ said Jeff in regards to local initiatives.

Getting Residents Involved

What can the city do to get its residents involved? ‘As someone who has been involved with the city for so long, I can tell you how hard it is,’ said Jeff, ‘Volunteers should be about 10% of your population, mostly it isn’t, it’s 5-8%.’ Of course, this varies from city to city.

’For a city to encourage it, they have to foster a place that encourages it. Community is not a new thing; these are old traditions in America. The city needs to open its door and say we need community participation. If you don’t have these kinds of communications, then you have a breakdown of communities,’ he said.

It might be the case that there are plenty of boards, initiatives, and groups that residents can get involved in but don’t know about. Communication is always essential. To build any relationship, people need to be able to communicate with each other, and the same goes for the city and its residents. If the city wants residents’ participation, it should actively encourage it and make sure that people are aware of their options.

‘If you do these things, you should get more participation,’ said Jeff.

Cities and Technology

Jeff is a self-proclaimed tech nerd. He was one of the early implementers of paperless solutions, and he runs a whole business just from his smartphone. ‘That’s the kind of things cities can utilize; they have apps, websites, they do technology fairs,’ said Jeff.

I was pleased to hear that Jeff was familiar with our work at Simplicity and really liked it. City and public agencies can successfully reach all interested residents.  The public won’t miss any announcements, events, or local opportunities. Furthermore, all residents can share ideas for their city, point out issues, or create initiatives.

The Local Hero in All of Us

To sum up, every prospering city should have an active civic involvement. The public involvement in improving their city empowers citizens, fosters a sense of unity and community, and saves city resources, time, and staff hours.  It should be in the city’s best interest to ensure there are enough opportunities for civic participation and let the public know about it. The Simplicity platform is the perfect way to do it.

Nevertheless, that doesn’t mean that we can’t step up. Jeff is a living example that anybody can find the time if they want to and take the initiative.  Start simple and move from there. You are not just helping the city you live in, but all of your neighbors and future generations.

‘When I do need help, when I do need a neighbor, they are there, and that’s why I get involved and help the community.’ said Jeff. ‘Go out there and get involved. It’s that simple.’

If you live in the U.S. and know somebody in your city that leads by example in giving to his neighbors and community, please do not hesitate to contact me at petrek@onesimplicity.com. Thank you.