Last week, a few of us from mGive headed out to Boulder to join other Certified B Corps at B Corporations‘ Day of Service at Growing Gardens. Now I must admit, I am already very lucky that at my daily “office job” I get to help nonprofits across the country work toward their missions and make the world a better place. However, it is extra special when I get the opportunity to actually get out into the field and help out first hand. And this experience was literally out in a field!
Growing Gardens is an amazing organization based out of Boulder, CO. They operate over 11 acres of land with different varieties of agriculture opportunities. Our day started off with a lunch graciously supplied from Ideal Market in Boulder and then we were given a tour of the property. The venue is incredible. From a newly planted orchard to a colorful Children’s Peace Garden - they even have their own worms! The property also hosts hundreds of individual community gardens available to the public for rent through their Growing Gardens Community Program.
Our job this day was to weed the onion field that is a part of Growing Gardens Cultiva program. And with the recent excessive rain we have had here in Colorado, there sure were a lot of weeds! Cultiva is a program created for youth to give “back to the community while developing their leadership and job skills.” Unlike traditional programs these teens are also earning income. Our guide Lauren told us, by setting the program up this way, not only do the students learn agricultural skills, they learn a sense of financial responsibility, accountability and ROI. Needing to earn money is often a main reason these youth miss out on opportunities to learn skills like this. It felt great to be helping support a program like that. Frankly, I would have weeded a hundred more rows of onions to know I was helping such great kids.
Surprisingly to me, helping the program wasn’t the only enlightening part of my day. While working in the field we got to interact with some great people both from Growing Gardens and the other Certified B Corps that were also volunteering. Though the group of volunteers were mostly adults from local businesses, two young boys, Ryan and Luke came along with their mom, Jill. I was so impressed by these kids, I haven’t stopped thinking about them days later. It was a sunny hot day in Boulder and they had just come from a full morning of soccer camp. I am sure the last place these kids wanted to be was volunteering with their moms work, however you would have never known that. From the minute they introduced themselves they exuded confidence and pride. They were not even embarrassed to be put on the spot in front of a group of adults during the welcome session. While we were working out in the gardens, they continually asked questions of the adults. And not just any questions. They asked personal questions and genuinely wanted to hear what the adults thought and what they enjoyed. They listened and even asked follow up questions. They didn’t complain one time during the three hours of manual weeding in the hot Colorado sun and they worked hard the whole time. Meeting these two young boys was so impactful on me. Being able to give back to the community felt great and I definitely will be back to Growing Gardens to lend a hand in the future. But to be rewarded with meeting Ryan and Luke was just icing on the cake! Getting young people excited about being part of their community is so important. Volunteering and giving back are going to rely on kids getting involved now because they are the philanthropists of tomorrow. Shout out to Ryan and Luke’s parents for not only teaching them about the importance but actually demonstrating it themselves too.