If you build it, they will come … right?
The Boys and Girls Club of El Dorado County Western Slope followed this “golden rule” in its pursuit of implementing and expanding its garden program, “Positive Sprouts.”
Meghann Hoard, director of member services for the Boys and Girls Club, got the ball rolling when she reached out to a group of nine Americorps NCCC (National Civilian Community Corps) students from the Sacramento campus who were doing service work at the Sly Park Education Center in Pollock Pines.
As a previous Americorps member, Hoard knew the students had to complete a number of Independent Service Project (ISP) hours and she jumped at the opportunity to join forces.
The Americorps members volunteered two separate days to do garden projects at both the Pollock Pines and Placerville Boys and Girls Club locations.
Pollock Pines was first on the list, that project day taking place on March 10.
“It was really nice to see such young people come and work so hard for our club like this,” Michelle Murphy, a Pollock Pines Boys and Girls Club staff member, said.
Murphy coordinates the Positive Sprouts program at the Pollock Pines location and she was tasked with determining what changes and improvements were to be made to the garden area.
After six hours of labor, much of Murphy’s to-do list was accomplished. Although there is still more to do, Murphy said, the Pollock Pines site now boasts an expanded garden area with four terraced beds cut into a hillside, an expanded patio area next to the garden and an addition of a sand box between the two.
“It was really a jump start to have all of these young people come in and help,” she said. “It was a lot of hard labor.”
Improvements at the Placerville Boys and Girls Club site took place on March 16 with the same group of Americorps members alongside Boys and Girls Club staff.
The agenda at this site included site beautification, garden relocation and restructuring of the sand box.
The Placerville location plans to launch the Positive Sprouts program over the summer, making it necessary to start planning now.
“We haven’t had a garden program in Placerville so it will be a trial project,” Hoard said.
Amran Nero, one of the Americorps members helping on the projects, said he enjoys the opportunities Americorps gives him — through various trainings as well as the 80 hours of Independent Service Project hours he is required to complete in order to graduate from the program.
“With Americorps it’s all about giving back,” he said. “Giving back to your country that gave you freedom and opportunities.”
With these projects, Nero and his eight team members have played an important role in shaping the lives of many children living in El Dorado County. The Positive Sprouts program at the Boys and Girls Club is run with the goals of health and education and is an excellent hands-on exercise for the children.
“It’s science, it’s education, it’s sharing and being cooperative, it’s learning to use tools, it’s learning to eat — they try all of the food that’s out there — it’s introducing them to different things, it’s hands on and it’s fun,” Murphy said.
The Boys and Girls Club of El Dorado County follows the mission of the Boys and Girls Club of America: To enable all young people, especially those who need us most, to reach their full potential as productive, caring, responsible citizens. The recipe for such a citizen includes a myriad of ingredients, many of which are being cultivated through the Positive Sprouts program at the Pollock Pines and Placerville club locations.
“We are very thankful for (the Americorps members), they are a very fun group,” Hoard said.
Several board members and local businesses donated monies and materials to these renovation and beautification projects, including Front Yard Nursery, The Home Depot and The Sand Man.
These generous donations, along with the donation of time from Americorps members and Boys and Girls Club staff, all attest to the strength of community in El Dorado County.
To learn more about the Boys and Girls Club programs call 530-295-8019.