Jumping at the opportunity

May 30, 2013 -  By

PLANET Community Stewardship Award Winner

Category: State Association Chapter

Volunteer efforts are ingrained in ALCC’s culture. 

In its 50 years, the Associated Landscape Contractors of Colorado (ALCC) has established a long history of supporting communities, sponsoring and leading projects throughout the state.

Associated Landscape Contractors of Colorado

In 2012, The Associated Landscape Contractors of Colorado installed healing and edible gardens for those in need. Photo: ALCC

“Giving back to the community is one of the things we were founded on,” says Kristen Fefes, executive director of the ALCC. “Part of that is because making communities beautiful, productive and sustainable is something that our membership does every day.”

Those community projects have included numerous undertakings over the years. In 2012, ALCC efforts included the installation of an edible garden at Excelsior Youth Center, a school for at-risk teenage girls. Fefes says many of the projects stand out in her mind, but this one had a powerful impact.

“To hear these young women talk about rape, drug abuse and the lack of support from their families was heart wrenching,” she recalls. “One of the things that’s important to community service is ensuring you have the right volunteers for the right project. On this particular project they were mostly female volunteers that wanted to be role models for these young girls. That was inspiring.”

There were other efforts, as well. At Poudre Valley Hospital, the Northern Chapter of the ALCC took on a project in which 14 volunteers transformed a parking lot into a healing garden to benefit both patients and staff. It involved installing irrigation and hundreds of shrubs and grasses. The Southern Chapter took 34 volunteers and transformed a field of weeds at a behavioral health services center into a community gathering place for the disabled, seniors, high-risk youth and veterans.

Chapters select projects in different ways, Fefes says. “Sometimes it’s a really organic process where there’s an obvious need that comes out of the community and the chapter responds to it,” she says. “Other times there’s a more formal nomination and selection process based on ideas.”

Then it’s a matter of getting a group of volunteers together, which Fefes says is often easy to do. “We’ve had a couple of volunteers bring their own children to a project,” she says. “I think it’s a great way to inspire our youth to give back and show them the value of community service.”

Associated Landscape Contractors of Colorado

The Associated Landscape Contractors of Colorado has established a long history of supporting communities, sponsoring and leading projects throughout the state. Photo: ALCC

Another project that stands out for Fefes is one at a food bank a few years back. “It was such awful weather that day and people could have felt discouraged or even wanted to give up, but instead everyone said, ‘It’s all right, we’re doing this,’ and then went ahead,” Fefes recalls. “Everyone ended up having a blast and it was very memorable.”

As the ALCC chapters continue to embrace community involvement, Fefes says she feels it’s now “in their blood” and something they will continue to do.

“Helping people in need is just the right thing to do,” Fefes adds. “I’ve found our chapters are jumping at the opportunity to do that and to make a difference in our communities. We all benefit from our surrounding communities becoming more beautiful.”

Fefes says that by this point, community involvement is ingrained in the ALCC and that its members consider volunteering to be part of their membership.

“I see the interest in volunteering as something that’s an ongoing part of our future,” she says.

 AT A GLANCE

State association: Association Landscape Contractors of Colorado

Location: Denver

Executive director: Kristen Fefes

SELECT PROJECT LISTING:

▶ Excelsior Youth Center—In 2012, 24 volunteers from the Denver Chapter designed and installed an edibles garden within a larger master-planned garden at this school for at-risk teen girls.

▶ Poudre Valley Hospital—Last year, members from the Northern Chapter transformed a parking lot into a healing garden that included irrigation and hundreds of plants.

▶ Aspen Pointe Enterprises—Thirty-four Southern Chapter members turned a weed field into a community gathering place, with support from 18 suppliers.

Landscape Management is the media sponsor of the Professional Landcare Network’s (PLANET) Community Stewardship Award. We’ll feature each of the program’s winners January through June. For more information or to read about the other winners, visit landcarenetwork.org/awards/communityaward or landscapemanagement.net/givingback.

 

About the Author:

Payton is a freelance writer with eight years of experience writing about the landscape industry.

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