These Hispanic Landscape Alliance volunteers were all smiles prior to starting their Day of Service project at Good Shepherd Housing Foundation home.
Photos courtesy the NHLA.
April 22, Earth Day, came and went in a flash as it always does, and landscape and lawn service companies across the United States donated their time and materials to help their communities. The special Day of Service observance is promoted and organized by the Professional Landcare Network (PLANET).
This year landscape and lawn care pros completed about 90 projects in 24 states in conjunction with the Day of Service. PLANET reports that the total value of the projects was $400,000.
Typical was the project tackled by volunteers under the banner of The National Hispanic Landscape Alliance (NHLA). These volunteers, representing several fine green industry companies that do work in and around Washington, D.C., provided a landscaping makeover for a Good Shepherd Housing Foundation (GSHF) home for chronically mentally ill and at-risk residents.
More than 30 volunteers tackled some pretty tough jobs during the course of their day. They cut and removed overgrown vegetation, repaired and beautified winter-ravaged beds and cleaned patios, sidewalks and other paved areas.
NHLA member companies removed undesirable vegetation and installed new plants according to a landscape plan that beautified the GSHF Grayson Property and made the outdoors more functional.
Participating NHLA members included Alexandria LawnService, Denison Landscaping, Epling Landscaping and Lawn Services, RulyScapes, Ruppert Landscape and JK Enterprise Landscape Supply, all of which will took part in one or more aspects of the project which included planning, designing and executing a landscape makeover for the not-for-profit housing facility. This effort was followed on May 3, 2014, by the Garden Rally; a community fundraising effort to benefit needed improvements to other GSHF properties.
"The NHLA is proud that our members, even during this very busy time of the year, are taking this opportunity to help an organization that cares for the often marginalized and underserved of our society by donating the manpower, equipment and plant material necessary for this much needed project. This effort will help to contribute to the health, safety and well-being of Good Shepherd residents and provide usable outdoor space," said Raul Berrios, NHLA president and RulyScapes owner.
By commencing this demonstration project, the NHLA and the Good Shepherd Housing Foundation hope to set an example for the community while raising awareness of a critical societal issue that is often ignored - mental illness.
Participating NHLA members included Alexandria LawnService, Denison Landscaping, Epling Landscaping and Lawn Services, RulyScapes, Ruppert Landscape and JK Enterprise Landscape Supply.
Research conducted by the University of Washington found that outdoor activities in parks and other natural landscapes can help alleviate symptoms of Alzheimers, dementia, stress and depression, among other types of mental health conditions.
"We are so grateful for the efforts of Morelli & Associates and Valerie Meale-Hayslett for their continuing support of Good Shepherd and for making our needs known to the NHLA. We also are in awe of the generosity of the NHLA members for their help in providing an environment that reflects the care and concern of the larger community for those less fortunate," said Bob Allard, president of the Good Shepherd Housing Foundation.
As part of its mission, the NHLA encourages members to seek opportunities to engage non-profit organizations in initiatives that better communities. Earlier local beneficiaries of such efforts include the SYA Youth Sports Complex in Centreville. The NHLA advances the professionalism of Hispanics in the landscape industry through leadership training and education on proper landscape practices, and is a strong advocate for sustainable practices that maximizes carbon sequestration and oxygen production, controls stormwater run-off, and reduces summertime ambient temperatures naturally.
The National Hispanic Landscape Alliance is an association that facilitates and promotes the advancement of Hispanics as landscape industry professionals and leaders and provides the nation's half-million Hispanic-American landscaping professionals a voice in the national dialogue on environmentally responsible landscape practices, and a means through which to advocate on behalf of their businesses, the livelihood of their employees, and the quality of life in their communities.
Good Shepherd Housing Foundation is celebrating its 25th anniversary in September. Since 1989, the Foundation has been providing housing for individuals and families struggling with mental illness and families with low income.
Ron Hall is the editor-in-chief of Turf magazine.