Hello all, it’s a pleasure to speak to you once again, concerning more Building Futures YouthBuild AmeriCorps news.
September 11, 2001, will forever be marked as the day that America will never forget and the day that the world stood still. The day that will forever be remembered as a day that was used to break the American spirit, but ultimately fueled the country’s undying patriotism and perseverance to rebuild and stand proudly as the United States of America.
Each year on the anniversary of the September 11th attacks Americans unite in service in the same remarkable way that so many came together following that terrible event. On September 11, 2015, Building Futures participated in the AmeriCorps National Day of Service and Remembrance.
Allow me to give you a slight backdrop to this story.
YouthBuild AmeriCorps in 2015 held a nationwide, I repeat a nationwide, photo contest for YouthBuild programs in which L&C Building Futures program entered and was chosen as a contest winner. The award winning photo was taken by Lewis and Clark’s own Media Specialist and Photographer S. Paige Allen. Please hold your applause; there’s more! There were several different categories and L&C Building Futures program was chosen as the winner of the Posed/Group Category.
I mean look at the faces of these hard working young men, they’re winners, who wouldn’t vote for them? But, I digress.
By entering and being chosen as a winner in a category for the YouthBuild AmeriCorps photo contest, Building Futures was awarded $500. Building Futures used this $500 for a landscaping project for a Habitat for Humanity home on Wallace Street in Alton, Illinois. Building Futures has worked with the Alton Habitat for Humanity on several different projects assisting the organization to build and/or rehab various homes in the Alton community. In order to complete this project Building Futures called on the expertise of Scott Moss, the coordinator for the Restoration Ecology and Storm Water Management Programs at Lewis and Clark Community College.
For those of you who don’t know what Restoration Ecology exactly is, don’t feel bad! If you would have asked me what it was before our members worked with Scott Moss, I wouldn’t have been able to tell you either!
L&C’s Restoration Ecology and Storm Water Management Programs offer students the opportunity to obtain an Associate’s of Science degree in Restoration Ecology, a Certificate of Proficiency in Restoration Ecology, and/or a Certificate of Completion in Sustainable Urban Horticulture.
Students in the program learn to repair damaged land, habitat and ecosystems, and to manage these environments in sustainable natural areas, wetlands and urban environments. This type of program is relevant and useful considering the close proximity of the St. Louis Army Corps of Engineers and the 3,700 acre Riverlands Migratory Bird Sanctuary that’s home to large numbers of migratory waterfowl and shorebirds, as well as other wildlife that live in the wetlands.
With help from Scott Moss, Building Futures members designed a cost efficient, native landscape design for the homeowners. Moss drew up property plans that allowed the students to see the natural flow of water to the property. He then instructed the students about different storm water management options, and plants that are native to the area.
YouthBuild AmeriCorps members then designed a landscaping plan that optimized the best strategies for the property using both native and non-native plants.
YouthBuild students also worked with the homeowners to add the plants of their choice. During their day of service, they planted 15 trees of different varieties, such as Red Bud, Maple and Cork Screw Willow, 27 ornamental grasses of five different varieties, 10 mums, four Russian Sage, two varieties of 10 cone flowers and grass seed. Students also installed tile drains, donated by the Restoration Ecology department, and created a run-off to the plants to help with the water drainage.
The property was tilled, and landscape mulch was added to create an aesthetically pleasing design.
The homeowners were very happy with the completion of the property and feel proud to show off their new home. Home owner Jaqueisha Howard said the following about the work that AmeriCorps members have done for her new home and throughout the community:
“I believe the work that Building Futures does is very beneficial to the community. First, it helps others to know that good is being done in their community not just when disaster strikes, like a hurricane or something, as someone put it when I told them about Youth Build. And secondly, now we feel like we are part of the neighborhood instead of just the new house on the corner.”
Until the next time, signing off!
“Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, what are you doing for others?” ~ Dr. Martin Luther King.