BigView- Love Modesto

The BigView
By Chris Murphy

For many of you long time readers, one of things that I find so amazing about the Modesto area is that we are big enough to have the big city things we like, but we are small enough were one person or a small group can make a difference. You see this in so many ways. Chris Ricci and I started the Modesto Area Music Awards, Kate Trompetter, Ruhi Sheikh and Trisha Rosenow started Mod Shop and Porchfest, Lonny Davis created the Uncle Lonny Presents and Hope Haven West, Sam Pierstorff and Greg Edwards started the Ill List and Slam on Rye, Irene Rigney and Becky Wilbur launched the first Graceada Park renovation in 1998 and Jake and Katie Barber launched the new Modesto Children’s Museum, Bette Belle Smith launched so many things and Jeff Pishney started something called Love Modesto. There are so many amazing examples of really successful things that have made our community better that started with the ideas and the efforts of one or two people. We live in a special place where teamwork and volunteerism go hand in hand.

On thing I do know is that time flies when you are doing good things. I look back on the last 30 years of community involvement, and there have been wonderful things that have happened and time has sped by. My girls were so little when we worked on Graceada Park and in the blink of an eye, they are married with families. I’m sure the same thing is happening to you.

It seems crazy that it was in 2008 and 2009 when these simple white signs that read Love Modesto with a heart were mysteriously popping up all over town. Then bumper stickers followed and soon people all over town were asking about Love Modesto. Brilliant marketing. That first year there were over 70 projects and people gathered in downtown Modesto on March 7, 2009 to meet up, meet each other, find their projects and as a giant group, all spread out across the city to improved the lives of others and places. It was truly amazing.

People felt good, they felt like they had accomplished something and everybody walked a little taller and had that feeling of accomplishment. This mission and the feeling is the same thing we want ModestoView readers to feel, that they are doing their part to make Modesto better.

Love Modesto was a project that Jeff Pishney started when he was a community outreach coordinator at Big Valley Church. ModestoView has been a supporter of Love Modesto for over a decade and back in 2016, we asked Jeff about the genesis of Love Modesto back in 2007.

ModestoView: Who came up with “Love Modesto” theme?
Jeff Pishney: This theme was birthed out of a reaction of a sad slogan I heard from some college students – “Modesto Sucks”. What if we turned this completely around? It was certainly not original, but myself and others had this idea of “I Love Modesto” and putting this slogan on t-shirts and decals to give these out. Around that time I also came across an initiative in Portland, Oregon called “Love Portland”. I knew “Love Modesto” was the name.

When was the big light bulb moment ?
It first hit me something bigger was going on at the first Love Modesto when we’re hoping for 100 people to show up and over 1,200 people came out to love our city. It hit me again two years later when we first up our large signs up around town and all the people beeping their horn and shouting out encouragement. It was that same year that we first gathered downtown with around 2,000 people showing up. I remember standing on that stage looking out and knew that we were going to help change the narrative of city.>

Jeff Says
I love the quote by Mahatma Ghandi “Be the change that you wish to see in the world”. I wanted to be the change I wished to see in Modesto.

Loving more than Modesto.
Love Modesto quickly evolved as people from Ceres got involved and wanted their own city on their Love Ceres yard sign and they would organize their own local event. Soon after, Jeff created Love our Cities that became a place to reach out, not only in our area, but across the state and the USA. Currently there are over 100 cities connected with Love our Cities. There are an amazing 1.5 million volunteer hours and $28.5 worth of volunteer services. Love our Cities was named the 2020 California non-profit of the year.

Love our Schools
One of Love Modesto’s goals has been to create the same volunteer spirit for our schools. Back in 2016, Jeff wondered, what if we could create the same volunteer network for each of our schools. How much impact could that have on the kids and teachers in our community? Love Our Schools is where you can find practical ways to help schools address needs to help remove barriers to our student’s success, because every child should have someone to help them unlock their potential.

Love our Neighborhoods
Love Our Neighbors is the one stop shop to find the best ways to engage the community throughout the county. This is a great resource to match up needs to potential volunteers. Over the last few years, this has become the go to space for volunteer matching in our community. There is something for any ability and skill. Learn more about organizations, read ratings and reviews, volunteer, and donate.

Love our Kids
Love ALL Our Kids focuses on families affected by foster care and provides tangible ways you can help a family in need. This is such an underserved part of our community and there are ways to help with school supplies and other resources.

Love Stanislaus
A few years ago, these programs were all rolled into a new organization called Love Stanislaus County. Visitors to this site can select what areas that meet their needs and desire to get involved. This is the main jumping point for Love our Schools, Love our Neighborhoods and Love our Kids and to foster volunteer relationships.

Modesto loves Love Modesto
Back in 2016, Modesto proclaimed that April was Love Modesto Month. So here we are, in April celebrating the great volunteer spirit that is Love Modesto, Love Ceres, Love Patterson and so much more.

Love Modesto 2022 – April 30
Now for the big news! Love Modesto is back with the full rally and the volunteer get together. Sidelined during the pandemic, the volunteer projects sill happened without the gathering. This year it will be bigger and better than ever on April 30. Located at the corner of 10th and I Street, the Love Modesto rally will begin with a pancake breakfast and vendor booths along I street. From 7 am to 9 am, volunteers will gather and find their projects. Around 8 am the rally will begin with a lot of fun and surprises. At 9 am, volunteers will fan out across the city to find their projects. There is something for any skill level and any interest. There are nearly 100 projects this year and you can sign up now at

Learn more about Jeff Pishney from our 2016 ModestoView interview

Posted in: news

About the Author:

Chris Murphy is the President and CEO of Sierra Pacific Warehouse Group and Publisher and Founder of ModestoView Inc. Chris worked globally in the cycling industry returning to Modesto in 1996. He is also the founder of the Modesto Historic Graffiti Cruise Route, Legends of the Cruise Walk of Fame, Modesto Rockin’ Holiday, the Modesto Music History Organization and co-founder of the Modesto Area Music Association. Chris is married to his artist wife Rebecca since 1985 and has two daughters Madison and Abigail, both graduating from Modesto High and UC Berkeley. He is lead singer and guitarist for his band, Third Party that donates their performances to non-profits.