This week marks GreenCare for Troops Awareness Week as an effort to bring attention to the need for basic lawn care and landscaping services for families of deployed military members and post-9/11 veterans with disabilities.
The program has aided more than 11,000 military families and veterans over its 12 years of operation and has received an estimated $8 million in donated lawn care and landscape services from more than 6,000 green industry professionals.
The volunteers have done everything from redesigning a backyard for a military member returning from an extended deployment to creating a space for service dogs to enjoy.
“The connection our volunteers have with military families and/or disabled veterans they are matched with can be very personal and meaningful,” said Cindy Code, executive director of Project EverGreen. “Not only are our volunteers providing a valued service and relieving a burden, but they are also creating an environment where military families and disabled veteran can re-connect with two powerful forces – their families and nature.”
One of the GreenCare for Troops volunteers, Spring Touch Lawn & Pest Control is working to raise $10,000 in donations from the community and raise as much awareness as possible.
The St. Peter, Minnesota, based company marked its fundraising campaign by throwing out the ceremonial first pitch sponsored by Toro at a Minnesota Twins game on June 2nd.
“We’ve set a goal to raise $10,000,” said Nathan Newlands, vice president of franchising for Spring Touch. “It costs Project EverGreen roughly $50 every time a military family is matched with a volunteer, who then covers the cost of services. By fundraising $10,000 we can help provide around $50,000 of services to 200 or so military families.”
Over the years the company has hired a number of veterans and Newlands himself served in the Australian Air Force and has worked with the American military. He saw firsthand how hard deployment can be on loved ones back home.
“When we found out about this we just thought it was a really good fit with the company as we’re able to help them out and give them that bit of extra help that they needed for their family back here, so they didn’t have to worry about it overseas,” Newlands said.
Spring Touch has been volunteering with GreenCare for Troops for around six years, and also participates in the SnowCare for Troops program, which provides snow removal services for military families and veterans.
“We were just expecting to be able to help others while they’re overseas and that’s what we have experienced and it’s also good for our technicians to know that they’re doing some good out there; they’re not just out there treating a lawn,” Newlands said. “They are actually helping someone who’s needing it right now.”
The company has a 70-mile radius for its GreenCare for Troops service while the SnowCare is more localized. Spring Touch has said that it will service up to five families at a time, but it’s never maxed that out and is open to taking on more families than its listed number.
Whenever the deployed military member returns home, Spring Touch receives an email from GreenCare letting them know they no longer need service, but the company has finished off the year for several of the families just as a thank you for their sacrifice.
Newlands admits that the volunteering doesn’t take that much extra effort since it’s just adding a couple of houses to their route.
“Realistically, we’re already on route anyway so what’s another stop?” he said. “It all depends on the size of the yard. To me, it’s really very minimal for what you’re actually doing for them.”
One of the veterans Spring Touch was able to help out is a retired staff sergeant whose health has been declining. He has the biggest yard on the block and the company knew it meant a lot to him to keep his lawn looking good.
“I don’t think they want the attention, but they obviously have applied and need the help so it’s good to just be able to give them that extra hand that they need,” Newlands said.
Spring Touch doesn’t mow, but it does offer lawn care treatments such as fertilizer applications and pesticide sprayings. Newlands says its more on the volunteer companies to decide what services they want to provide for the military families.
For other companies considering signing up to volunteer, Newlands encourages them to just do it.
“It’s such a little thing on our end and can have such a major impact on just one less thing that the troops have to worry about or the disabled veteran has to worry about, it just makes such a big difference in their lives and it’s something so small, why not?” he said.
For those interested in learning more about GreenCare for Troops, click here or call 888-611-2955.