Three years ago Groundwork RVA began a mission to equip Richmond's high potential youth to become city builders. Groundwork RVA recruited a team of George Wythe High School students, led by horticulture instructor Harris Wheeler, to care for the Oak Grove Bellemeade Elementary landscape, a LEED-certified facility located in south Richmond.
The teens embarked on a landscape training program informed by Mr. Wheeler's 30 years of experience cultivating healthy landscapes in Richmond communities. Sponsored by a pilot grant from 6th District Councilperson Ellen Robertson, the teens earn a stipend for their training regime, which consists of the care of the elementary school site, adjacent park, and the new bike and walking trails that now circle the complex. More than mowing the grass, landscape training is about building a work ethic, trouble-shooting on the job, and leaving things better than we came to them. Mr. Wheeler's approach to landscapes is a reflection of his approach to life: "Everything we do, we do with excellence," was Green Workforce lesson one.
Three years later, the elementary school campus pops with well-kept greenery, beautiful native plants, and a new bridge connecting the community to a state-of-the-art recreation center. Green Workforce has lead the effort to beautify Richmond Public School landscapes at John Marshall High School, George Wythe High, Richmond Technical Center, and many more campuses and park sites. The team has acquired not only landscaping skills and knowledge of conservation practices; they've developed the ability to confidently present their work to community leaders and to promote the stewardship of Richmond's green spaces.
More importantly, the group has truly become a team, a unit that is capable of achieving more than any individual, and this team makes up the core of Groundwork RVA. These high potential youth are realizing their abilities to create beautiful landscapes, operate equipment, accomplish demanding tasks from start to finish, and make visible improvements in their communities.
We're coming to you now because we want to take Green Workforce to the next level. Green Workforce's capacity to provide landscaping improvement — from mowing and leaf pick-up, to rain garden installation, to park bench and boardwalk construction, to snow-blowing and tree care — is limited only by our ability to put wheels under this team. We've realized the potential of this program to make transformational impacts on people and places, and we see the path ahead.
This week, you can help us get there.
Our goal is to raise $30,000. This is the number we need to reach to acquire a crew-cab truck and equipment set-up to get our most experienced Green Workforce rolling. This Fall, with your support, Groundwork RVA will hire GWF graduates to expand our greening and maintenance capabilities to meet our city's needs. We've already made two big steps in the right direction:
Richmond philanthropists Bill and Pam Royall offer a $10,000-match Challenge
All donations up to $10,000 will be matched, dollar for dollar, by the Royall family. We know we can match their generosity if we work together to get there!
If you'd like to give equipment or materials en lieu of a donation, please contact Project Manager Will McQuate at Will@groundworkrva.org for a receipt. Equipment donations, including glasses, gloves, water bottles, coveralls, caps, and ear mufflers, are always extremely appreciated.
Thank you friends, for supporting the Green Workforce Program! We're hopeful that by Friday, April 28th we'll reach our $30,000 goal with your help. Please share this request for support within your own networks and help us expand the impact of Green Workforce.
See you soon, and thank you so much!
Giles Harnsberger, Executive Director
Bob Argabright, President, Board of Directors
Will McQuate, Project Manager
Kendra Norrell, Program Manager