I would be lying if I said this week hasn't been totally exhausting. I'm sure some of the MYBC students and staff that I've been blessed to serve with this week feel the same way. We knew it wouldn't be easy to coordinate ten programs, hundreds of students, and five projects across the state. And though the week doesn't officially close until tomorrow's project wraps in Springfield, I already find myself thinking about how massive-and impressive-an undertaking this has been for the Coalition, and being thankful for our amazing group handling every detail, all the way down to the paper towels, bug spray, and sun block. Fill up that coffee mug one more time Friday morning, and make it a strong one, because we still have one more project and community left to serve.
Today's event with the Trustees of Reservations, a long time friend and partner with our South Coast programs, proved that sometimes it is nice to get back to basics. Away from the urban hustle and bustle that surrounds most of our programs, we convened at the Trustees Westport Town Farm site. The first thing I noticed was the quiet of the place, set alongside the Westport River. Volunteers worked in the garden space pulling weeds, trimming grass, and watering the vegetables that were already coming in (radishes, onions, peas, and some great looking lettuce). Others performed maintenance on the tool shed, transported loam to needed locations, and worked the compost pile. Not to let a good opportunity go to waste, Steve of the Trustees and our activities coordinator for the day, took our students for some much needed R&R by giving the group a walking tour of the entire property. Not only were the vistas picturesque, they served as a reminder that serving your community can put you in some truly amazing places. Through it all, the farm dog was our constant companion and kept an eye out for trouble. Rumor had it there were some coyotes about, though the worms making a home in the compost pile probably gave our students the biggest scare of the day.
Besides our group at the Town Farm, two other teams headed off to other nearby Trustees properties. While we practiced organic garden maintenance techniques, volunteers from Fall River, Lawrence and Worcester broke out the heavy equipment to clear brush at the Trustees' Copicut Woods site. According to Nicole, my VISTA colleague from YB Fall River, the wood chipper only malfunctioned once (not bad) and they were able to get a lot of work in on the day. Volunteers from YB New Bedford and YB Brockton did the important work of clearing invasive plant species at Cornell Farm.
Through it all, it was clear why The Trustees and Massachusetts YouthBuild programs have been close partners for many years. Their staff was passionate about what the work they do and the land they are lucky to keep in its beautiful, natural state. We take that same passion and direct it toward the youth we serve in our programs. We thank the Trustees for allowing us to serve this week and hope to continue this great relationship.
Photos below, care of Jamilyn Gordon, YB New Bedford.
Tomorrow, we're wrapping it all up with YB Springfield as our host site and a community garden kickoff event on the docket.
Day Four, South Coast: 32 Volunteers (27 AmeriCorps Members, 1 VISTA) served 128 hours
Week Totals: 130 volunteers, 516.5 hours
Tomorrow's Weather.com forecast: Mostly cloudy skies. High 72F. Winds ESE at 5 to 10 mph.
-Paul, your VISTA blogger