Community to clean up in memory of Maruta Gardner
Published - 10/31/18 - 09:04 AM | 2008 views | 0 0 comments | 46 46 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Maruta Gardner
Maruta Gardner
A continuing memorial to a departed and beloved community volunteer has taken the form of an annual commemorative service day each Nov. 3.

The special day honors Maruta Gardner, former principal at Mission Bay High School, who was killed in 2016 by an intoxicated driver while painting out graffiti in Mission Beach. Nov. 3 is noteworthy because that was the date the city declared as Maruta Gardner Day recognizing the educator for her community accomplishments. 

“My goal is to make it an annual day of service as a legacy for Maruta,” said Dawn Reilly of Beautiful MB Inc., a nonprofit dedicated to Mission Beach’s enhancement. “It’s in spirit with how she lived her life, and how she brought a lot of people to community service.”

Reilly noted Gardner had a mystique about her when it came to community recruitment. 

“You’d show up at an event — and the next thing you knew you had a task to do,” Reilly said. “She was really inspiring in that way.”

After Gardner’s unexpected death, organizations and neighbors in Mission and Pacific beaches came together to memorialize her. A mural honoring Gardner, designed by Israel (Ezra) Cervantes, was painted by him, along with the aid of the Mission Bay High Mural Club, last year on a building near the high school’s gymnasium.

A second inspirational community mural is in the works.

“I’ve asked for a piece of wall on city property,” said Reilly noting the theme this time will be inspiring community service. “It will be geared toward people in service — military and emergency responders, police, lifeguards and the fire department,” she said. “We’ll put out that theme and let artists give us several renditions. Then we’ll pick three for the public to choose from.”

The inaugural Maruta Gardner Day in 2017 was on a Friday. This year’s second installment honoring her volunteerism falls on a Saturday. Volunteers will reconnoiter at Pacific Beach Taylor Branch Library at 4275 Cass St. at 9 a.m.

A participant again in this year’s Nov. 3 commemorative clean-up will be Pacific Beach Street Guardians. The social enterprise nonprofit hires homeless to perform custodial and community beautification projects for Discover PB, the community’s business improvement district.

“Last year we took people out into the community and did weeding and trash pickup, and we will do something similar this year,” said Caryn Blanton, the group’s founder/director. “We’re hoping this year to to get even more people than last year because it’s on a Saturday.”

Blanton said the guardian’s program serves a dual purpose: enhancing the community while providing homeless the opportunity to “commit to making a change and doing some good things for the community.”

“We’re trying to get everybody together on Nov. 3 to do community service like neighborhood cleanups, graffiti removal, etc.,” said Reilly of the event moving forward. “I’m hoping other organizations will just decide every year on a community-service project.”

Reilly said a whole page at, is devoted to Maruta Gardner Day. “There are two links,” she said. “One goes to a Go Fund Me page for a mural. The other is for a $1,500 scholarship set up every year to go to a deserving Mission Bay High School student.”

Of what cleanup volunteers need to bring along on Nov. 3, Reilly said, “We have all the supplies. All people have to do really is show up.”

Maruta Gardner Day

What: Volunteers will meet 9 a.m. on Nov. 3 at Pacific Beach Taylor Branch Library at 4275 Cass St.


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