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Beautifying a Community – One Yard at a Time

by Elyse W.

Jonathan has lived in Michigan his entire life. A few years ago, he decided the city of Southfield, Michigan, needed an all-volunteer, city-wide organization to help beautify his community. On a fateful day in 2005, Jonathan created The Southfield Parks and Garden Club. He created the Club because too often citizens felt it was someone’s “job” to keep the community clean and beautiful. Jonathan realized that many homes and green spaces were not managed because the homeowner was disabled, unable to work, or didn’t have the means to hire someone.

To help with the creation of The Southfield Parks and Garden Club, Jonathan thought volunteers could help fulfill those needs. Thanks to his previous work experience with English Gardens, a local garden center and landscape company, Jonathan began planning, organizing, and directing the club. Over the years, projects have included planting more than 300 native trees in city green spaces to help the environment; donating fully decorated Christmas trees to needy families; clearing, mapping, and chipping four miles of city park trails; beautifying the yards of nearly 40 qualified residents; initiating annual garden walks to improve community feelings; issuing ten “Fine Place” awards; and many more. 

Since Jonathan created the Southfield Parks and Garden Club, he has donated more than 4,000 hours towards its activities. He has also expanded the club to include an organic farm to feed the hungry and coordinated litter pick ups. As part of his efforts, Jonathan was recognized in Michigan as a 2008 Governor’s Service Awards finalist in the category of “Volunteer of the Year.”

This story is submitted by the Michigan Community Service Commission (MCSC). The MCSC builds a culture of service by providing vision and resources to strengthen communities through volunteerism. In 2009-2010, the MCSC will grant more than $7.7 million in federal and state funds to local communities for volunteer activities and programs, such as AmeriCorps and Learn and Serve. The Corporation for National and Community Service grants federal funding that the MCSC administers to its programs.

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