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Local Activist Heads To Inauguration; Needs Funds To Go

A local community activist is hoping to attend President-Elect Barack Obama’s inauguration next week.

The problem is the invitation from Rep. Mary Bono Mack (R) came on such short notice he doesn’t have the money to go.

Kris Benz knows a lot of people at the Desert Gateway Highland Estate of Palm Springs. He, like the President-Elect, is a community organizer and takes pride in his neighborhood.

Benz is also a member of the Palm Springs Human Rights Commission. It’s a position recognized by Bono Mack with a ticket to the inauguration.

“I was just ecstatic,” Benz told News Channel 3. “And I was excited one moment and then I said ‘wait a minute, I only have a few days to prepare.’ In preparing, I said, ‘wait a minute? what do I do?’ And I said, ‘maybe I can make this an event the community can share in.”

Wayne McKinney is the former director of Well in the Desert. He tells News Channel 3 that Benz is one of the Coachella Valley’s best volunteers.

“He’s been a community activist for years,” McKinney said. “I’ve run across him ten dozen times, and I adore and respect him.”

“Renaming this street after Rosa Parks. That was one of my biggest projects I was a part of and I was glad that I was a part of the team to make that happen,” Benz described one of his community highlights. “And, of course, as you know three years ago I was responsible for bringing Jesse Jackson out there to Hotel Zoso downtown. I continuously work with kids day in and day out.”

Benz will need airfare to Washington, D.C. He’s working with D.C. area churches for a place to stay.

Staples, the office supply store, in Palm Springs lended Benz a video camera to share his experience with you, the community.

If Mr. Benz goes to Washington, he hopes he can pass one message to the President-Elect.

“We know that you’re going to do a great job.”

KESQ News Team

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