GreenCare for Troops Guide: Freedom isn’t free

Photo: Aaron Birdseye
Photo: Aaron Birdseye

Troy Clogg’s father was a World War II veteran, and this fact drives his participation with GreenCare for Troops and other military nonprofits. “Freedom isn’t free,” says Clogg. “It’s taken for granted what people give so that we can worry about whether the grass is cut or a tree is planted right. I have a lot of respect for the people who serve.”

Clogg’s company has been a volunteer with GCFT since 2010, and the crew serves two to three military families each season. He began Troy Clogg Landscaping Associates in the early 1980s with a push mower. Today, the Wixom, Mich.-based company employs 70–80 people in the summer and 150 in the winter and expects to hit $12 million in revenue this year. Winter maintenance comprises 60 percent of the company’s business, design/build work accounts for 25 percent and summer maintenance is 15 percent.

Through a GCFT connection, Clogg heard of an opportunity to take on more than his usual slate of volunteer work. In April, Administrative Assistant Beth Savastano spoke with one of the GCFT Marine Corps veterans the company served, and he told her about a young Marine widow and mother of two.

Lauren Bowen’s husband Geoffrey, a rifleman in the Marines, suffered from PTSD following his two tours of duty in Iraq. In 2016, he committed suicide. The Bowens lived on one-and-a-half acres of land in Brooklyn, Mich., which had become difficult to manage after Geoffrey’s death. Bowen hoped to sell the house and move the couple’s 2-year-old son, Augie, and 9-month-old daughter, Tanner, closer to her family in Saline, Mich.

Savastano found that military widows do not qualify for services under GCFT, but asked Clogg if there was anything the company could do for her. “Troy said, ‘Call her, get information, we’re going to take care of her,’” she says.

Twenty-five of Clogg’s employees arrived at Bowen’s house at 9 a.m. on Saturday, April 22. They repaired the front steps, graveled the driveway, moved a massive firewood pile, rebuilt a fire pit, cut down a tree and landscaped the area around the house. The crew also finished a sandbox Geoff had begun building for Augie and filled it with fresh sand.

The employees donated their time, some even driving two hours to work on the project. Clogg paid for food and supplies, and Savastano manned the grill, cooking for Bowen, her kids and parents and the volunteers.

The morning the crew arrived, Bowen had a panic attack. “It can be overwhelming having people care so much,” she says. “I feel undeserving—sometimes I think other people need help more.”

Bowen recently received an offer on her house and hopes to move soon. She finds it difficult to express her gratitude to the volunteers, but she’s certain about one thing: “I think Geoff would be able to rest easy knowing people like Troy are taking care of me and the kids,” she says. “He would be really grateful for what they’ve done for us.”

To read the full article on how nonprofit initiative GreenCare for Troops is giving the gift of green space—and peace of mind—to military families in need, click here.

Photo: Aaron Birdseye

Abby Hart

Abby Hart

Abby Hart is the former senior editor of Landscape Management. A native Clevelander, she spent 10 years in Chicago, where she was operations manager of a global hospitality consultancy. She also worked as managing editor of Illumine, a health and wellness magazine; and a marketing specialist for B2B publications. Abby has a degree in journalism from Boston University’s College of Communication.

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