At 94 years old, it seems Maria Compere’s community service and beautification accomplishments – past, present and future - are as limitless as her energy and creative vision. What began as a diversion has literally blossomed into a lifelong commitment that shows no signs of waning. Maria’s love for this community, her boundless enthusiasm and her ability to make things happen has been an inspiration to me personally, and a blessing to innumerable Knox Countians. It is therefore my honor, and a personal privilege, to nominate Maria de la Luz Compere for the 2010 Covenant Platinum Award.
One of the first things Maria did upon her arrival to Knoxville in the seventies was to help initiate the development of a Horticulture Department in Knoxville. This would prove merely to be the first step in what became Maria’s quest to help enhance and showcase the natural beauty of our community.
She went on to work (volunteer) with the Deane Hill Garden Club and the Tennessee Valley Authority to improve the area around West Town Mall. At the time, the area around the mall was surrounded with cyclone fencing and ditches. The ditches were full of weeds and litter, and the area was an eyesore. It took almost two years to complete, but due to her efforts on the local, state, and federal levels, the fencing was removed, trees and shrubs were planted, and the area around the mall was greatly improved. After the successful completion of the West Town Mall project, Maria founded the Knoxville Green Association and began beautification efforts in other parts
of the city.
Shortly after its inception, Maria created a sub-group of the Knoxville Green Association. Named the Pellissippi Beautification Committee, the group is dedicated solely to the improvement of a beautiful stretch of road known as the Pellissippi Parkway. To date, the Pellissippi Beautification Committee has planted 1,000,500,000 daffodils and more than 3,000 trees along the highway. Each year, the Pellissippi Beautification Committee hosts a bulb giveaway. In 2007, Maria raised the funds to offer 25,000 free daffodil bulbs to Knox County Schools. Seventy-four schools participated, and each school had the opportunity to receive 300 daffodils. This past Spring, the group gave away over $100,000 worth of different flowering bulbs to the community. They also continuously donate plants to local schools, churches, and other organizations such as the Laura Cansler Boys and Girls Club. Maria participated in the creation of an outdoor classroom and landscaping improvements for the Boys and Girls Club.
Maria has also chaired a project in conjunction with the Council of Garden Clubs and the Knoxville Garden Club that included outdoor recreation facilities for the blind and the disabled. With the help of the East Tennessee Community Design Center, she developed a beautiful greenway at the Ijams Nature Center. It is called the Serendipity Trail, and it is handicapped accessible.
Maria’s most recent undertaking was the development of a Healing Garden at the UT Cancer Institute. Two years ago, she approached the UT Cancer Research Institute for the purpose of creating a “healing garden” for the patients that came for treatment. The Cancer Institute partnered with Knoxville Green and the Ossoli Circle to make this beautiful garden a reality. It was completed in June of this year and unveiled on National Cancer Survivor’s Day at the UT Medical Center. In 2008, she was awarded the Sertoma Club's Service to Mankind Award which came with a $1000 check, which she immediately donated to the Healing Garden.
Maria de la Luz Compere has an extensive history of community service and has received numerous awards for her efforts. Although she is 94 years old, Maria continues to work tirelessly and persistently to improve her community and help others. She does so with love and compassion, and a desire to share East Tennessee’s natural beauty with those who might benefit most. It is my humble opinion that Maria Compere is truly worthy of the Covenant Platinum Award. Thank you for considering this “Picture Perfect” Senior.