By Anastasia Romanova, NACHC Community HealthCorps Program Officer
After a long hot summer, there is nothing better than spending a cool, only slightly humid day outside surrounded by dirt, mulch and gardening tools, especially while participating in the August Service Day for the AmeriCorps Alums DC Chapter. As an AmeriCorps member, service days were my favorite. I love the concept of a big group of strangers joining in to create a positive transformation- the positive energy you feel throughout the entire day and of course the free tee-shirt! As a DC newbie, I quickly found the local AmeriCorps Alums chapter and volunteered to be a part of their service committee.
On August 25, we participated in the 7th Annual DC Public Schools Beautification Day. This project was started in 2005 by Serve DC engaging hundreds of volunteers with a purpose of “sprucing up” the local public schools and surrounding grounds on a yearly basis. Our group served at the Capitol Hill Montessori School, which was exciting because it’s the first established public Montessori school in Washington, DC. We joined parents, teachers, community members and the most adorable students in various projects including trash pickup, weeding, gathering produce from the vegetable garden, building benches, and painting classrooms. The grounds included multiple vegetable gardens and were full of flowers and greenery. After our arrival, we started out by collecting two huge bags of trash around the perimeter of the school. Next we were assigned to a flower patch by one of the participating teachers. This part was my favorite because I was able to get down in the dirt and feel like I had a green thumb. With the help of two parents, we quickly transformed the overgrown patch in to a prim masterpiece. Over one hundred pounds of beautiful squash, zucchini, cucumbers, tomatoes were gathered throughout the day, and the school plans to use these vegetables for healthy cooking lessons for the students (just in time for Childhood Obesity Awareness Month in September)!
Overall this day was a great way to spend a Saturday morning. I walked away with blackened fingernails, two cucumbers, and a big smile on my face. What more could you ask for?!