Linda Denver is on a mission.
In 2006, recently retired after 36 years as a teacher and school administrator, Denver joined her husband John in supporting efforts to incorporate Menifee as a city. The long-time area resident saw benefits in officially uniting local communities under one city banner.
"The area was really growing," recalled Denver, who served as secretary of the Menifee Valley Incorporation Committee. "We wanted to see Menifee established as one community rather than being several nebulous fish in a big county pond."
Denver watched her dream become reality in October of 2008. Her husband is now a city council member. Population and economic growth of the area has continued -- although she admits it remains a challenge.
"There is still some bitterness," Denver acknowledged. "You still have people who say, 'I live in Sun City, not Menifee.' My hope is that rather than concentrating on where they live, people will focus on what they enjoy doing."
That's the reason Denver is involved in so many community service projects and organizations. She loves the community in which she has lived since the 1970s, and she wants to do all she can to help residents here -- young and old, new and well established -- to find and enjoy common interests.
Her interests are varied and her passion genuine. She was one of the founding patrons of Arts Council Menifee, an organization created in 2010 to encourage interest and participation in the arts. Denver, who has a bachelor's degree in Theater Arts, worked with other patrons to sponsor an arts showcase last June in the Countryside Marketplace. Local residents displayed works of art, music and dance.
In April, the organization sponsored "Menifee's Got Talent," an event in which residents auditioned for the chance to perform in various age groups.
"We've tried to bring all these different personalities together in some common way," Denver said. "We're not necessarily known as an artist community, but we know the talent is out there."
Another of Denver's interests is the Friends of the Sun City Library. Through her efforts and those of many others, the library is well equipped with modern computer equipment and has one of the largest book circulations in the county. Through the sale of used books, Denver says the group raises around $2,000 per month to support the library.
Her community service includes participation in the Rotary Club of Menifee and the Menifee Valley Historical Association.
"To me, that's part of the culture here," Denver said about the area's history. "We should share with others our knowledge of how this community began."
Denver's interests extend far beyond the library and the board room, however. For about four years beginning in 2004, she and John raced entry-level, unmodified cars at Perris Auto Speedway.
"John knew a person who was into racing," Denver said. "I started out as John's pit buddy. Halfway through the season, he said, 'You have to try this.'
"Here I am, a nice, quiet high school administrator who always stresses collaboration, teaching that everyone must get along. Then I get behind the wheel and I'm a different person. The competition got me."
That competitive nature kept her racing even after a horrible crash in 2005. On a turn during a qualifying race, she hit the wall at high speed and the car rolled over, pinning her inside. When Denver awoke, paramedics were placing her on a medical backboard. She had cracked the C2 vertebrae.
"The doctor told my husband I was a sneeze away from being paralyzed," Denver said. "I realized how blessed I was. I decided God is fair and pours out his grace even on the crazy people."
Denver returned to racing and placed sixth in her class the following year. Having retired from racing a couple years later, she and her husband now get their thrills from the interaction of community residents.
They realize the tremendous opportunities for both long-time residents and newcomers in this growing community.
"I love Menifee," Denver said. "The ruralness of it and that it's developing its own identity."
Linda Denver is on a mission.