PLANET Community Stewardship Award Winner: Greenscape

July 2, 2014 -  By
For the 2012 PLANET Day of Service, the Greenscape team planted the entrances to the Jeff Wells Environmental Trail in Fuquay-Varina, N.C. Photo: Greenscape

For the 2012 PLANET Day of Service, the Greenscape team planted the entrances to the Jeff Wells Environmental Trail in Fuquay-Varina, N.C. Photo: Greenscape

A North Carolina business uses its volunteerism to promote life outdoors.

When Greenscape President Daniel Currin was growing up, kids went outside to play and didn’t return until dinner. They dug in the dirt, played games in the yard, threw the ball around and did what kids do.

Or, used to do.

Thanks in part to TV, Xbox and iPads, the days when kids relished playing in the yard are fading. But the Greenscape team is doing its part to bring them back.

Since Currin’s father, Michael Currin, founded the business in 1979, community service has been a focus there. Today, the Holly Springs, N.C.-based business is a proponent of Come Alive Outside, a growing industry movement touting the benefits of outdoor recreation and green space.

In 2013, Greenscape used its passion for the movement to inspire its service projects and make life more enjoyable for kids—and the organizations that support them.

Passion into practice

Greenscape’s altruism centers on what it does best—landscaping. By focusing on that, the “Green Team”—as the employees are called—makes it easier for nonprofits to do what they do best, which is serve.

Currin is quick to say the Green Team comprises both employees and partners such as John Deere Landscapes, who provide project materials and sometimes help with labor.

Last year, Greenscape focused on two big outdoor projects. For the Professional Landcare Network’s (PLANET’s) Day of Service, 12 volunteers rallied to enhance the Castaway Cove Kids Garden at Marbles Kids Museum in Raleigh, N.C.

Volunteers rebuilt sandlots, trimmed shrubs and trees, tilled beds where kids would plant vegetables and more.

Greenscape has long supported the Boys & Girls Clubs of Wake County. Photo: Greenscape

Greenscape has long supported the Boys & Girls Clubs of Wake County. Photo: Greenscape

The gardens provide kids with a natural place to learn. And since about 400,000 people visit the museum annually, Currin says, the gardens have a huge reach.

“One of the things we try to convey internally is that we exist to serve,” says Paul Brooks, Greenscape’s vice president of lawn care services, who oversees the company’s three Weed Man franchise territories. “That carries from day-to-day operations and interactions with customers to volunteering and helping out in the community.”

Greenscape’s other big community service project in 2013 revitalized the playing fields at the Boys & Girls Clubs of Wake County, an organization Greenscape long has supported.

The project, valued at $15,000, entailed pruning, mulching, planting and grooming. It was just the type of project Currin loves, because it enables kids to actually play on green space, something that doesn’t happen enough anymore, he says.

The turf on the club’s playing fields was far from ideal, Brooks adds. And there was a lot of it. But after the team aerated, overseeded and made other enhancements, it was much improved.

Decisions, decisions

Greenscape also serves in less visible, but equally as impactful, ways. It has helped with Habitat for Humanity projects, collected coats and blankets for the homeless and supported graduates through internships, among other undertakings.

In late 2012, Greenscape formalized its commitment to volunteerism by creating the Community Outreach Committee. It was the company’s way of narrowing its focus.

“There are so many great things that you can do,” Currin says. “Trying to decide where we should put our resources was becoming a challenge.”

So Greenscape assembled a seven-person committee that fields requests for assistance. After choosing which projects to work on, the committee spreads the word to employees.

“Sometimes, some people’s role is just to stay at the office and ensure work is getting done,” Currin says. “But ultimately, we want everyone to have an opportunity to participate and get to experience these things.”

A plaque recognizes Greenscape’s contribution to the Marbles Kids Museum, following its 2013 project there. Photo: Greenscape

A plaque recognizes Greenscape’s
contribution to the Marbles Kids Museum, following its 2013 project there. Photo: Greenscape

The committee’s role will become even more important in 2015, when Greenscape plans to strengthen its community ties and spark employee volunteerism in cities where it has established branches.

“The biggest challenge is, how do we engage our entire organization in these activities in a meaningful way that creates value for them as individuals,” Currin says. “On the one hand, it’s very easy to do a project, but it’s very hard to do it in a way that is meaningful for everyone in the organization.”

It’s important to make that happen, Currin says.

The bottom line

Through community service, Currin says, his workers feel more fulfilled on the job. And when employees are happy, that trickles down to customers, leading to higher retention rates.

“As our outreach has grown, our business has grown,” Currin says. “It’s not a disconnect.”

He adds the community stewardship award from PLANET has enabled Greenscape to more clearly see the difference it’s making. “It gives us a great story to talk about,” Currin says. “People would much rather talk about this than mowing grass sometimes.”


At a Glance

Company: Greenscape
Headquarters: Holly Springs, N.C.
CEO: Michael Currin
President: Daniel Currin
SELECT PROJECT LISTING
▶ Castaway Cove Kids Garden, Marbles Kids Museum
In 2013, a dozen Greenscape team members tilled garden beds where kids planted vegetables the following day. They also refreshed playground mulches, rebuilt sand play areas and filled large pots with colorful flowers.
▶ Boys & Girls Clubs of Wake County
Another Greenscape project last year, this one revamped the nonprofit’s run-down sports fields. Valued at $15,000, the project required making significant enhancements.
▶ Capital Area Soccer League (CASL)
Greenscape donates its services to care for the league’s championship soccer field.
▶ Jeff Wells Environmental Trail
For 2012’s PLANET Day of Service, 16 team members worked with town planners to improve walking trails in Fuquay-Varina, N.C.

About the Author:

Geraci is a freelance writer based in Cleveland. She has worked as a professional journalist for more than 15 years, including six years as a writer for the Chicago Tribune. A graduate of Allegheny College and Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism, Geraci began her career as an editor at a newswire service in Washington, D.C., where she edited and distributed press releases from the White House and congressional leaders. She went on to become the community news reporter at the Jackson Hole Guide newspaper, winning two national feature writing awards. Her other experience includes working as a book editor in Chicago and as a professor of business communications at Cleveland State University.

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