Where the Grass is Greener
On Friday, September 13th the United Way, alongside its team of Emerging Leaders and over 350 volunteers kicked off their inaugural Day of Caring. This year, as part of the Day of Caring, the United Way planned 25 volunteer projects at certified nonprofit partners across five counties. As an Emerging Leader, I was asked to be the captain for one of these projects and gladly welcomed the opportunity.
The Day of Caring project that I led was in partnership with Next Move Sacramento (formerly the Sacramento Area Emergency Housing Center), a local nonprofit with the goal to help homeless families land back on their feet. Next Move has several campuses across the Sacramento region that house families while helping them learn to become self-sufficient. Our project was held at their Mather campus.
I arrived at the campus ahead of time to meet with the Next Move team which included fellow Emerging Leader, Joseph Ramos. We discussed the project tasks and prepped for our team of volunteers. Shortly after my team of 17 volunteers arrived, eager and ready to begin!
After signing in the volunteer crew, the Next Move team introduced themselves and the project. The project would actually entail two separate tasks: landscape and sod a dirt lot that would become a play area for 3-4 year olds as well as paint one of the activity rooms. We had four of the volunteers split off to paint while the rest helped with the landscaping work.
I think it’s safe to say that the whole team learned some valuable lessons in terms of landscaping and laying sod. Each volunteer took turns raking, tilling, leveling, fertilizing, and carrying and laying sod. As captain, my job was more to supervise, but I couldn’t resist jumping in and getting dirty myself!
When all was said and done, we were puckered out and covered in dirt and/or paint. My team did a fantastic job and the former dirt lot was transformed into a luscious field of grass for the toddlers to play in and the activity room had a great looking new color on its walls. What really made the day was that several of the campus’ children came out to see what was happening while we worked. You could see the excitement in their eyes.
We even got to see the first little girl step out on the new grass, which was both adorable as well as heartwarming. Seeing the reactions of the children definitely made all the work feel extra worthwhile and capped off a fun day of helping out the community. It also left me excited for the next volunteer opportunity that being a United Way Emerging Leader will bring me.
Alex Rude is a Web Developer for Retail Pro International and also runs his own development business, Rude Development. He is also an Emerging Leader with the United Way who enjoys finding fun ways to give back to his community.