My initial thought when deciding to volunteer more and leave my little (big) footprint in different cities I wasn't quite sure how to begin. Generally , before pursuing a career at 30,000 feet , I would volunteer leisurely every few months. I have been volunteering since Adopt-A-Highway days in middle school and I've always felt a profound sense or urge to give back to the community. So I started to research various organizations and the steps to become an involved member. Miami raised me so I was so excited when my sister shared with me an event happening in my city. From the powers of Facebook , she noticed an old high school classmate requesting helping hands for a project. What better way to start my journey than in my hometown!
The event was a garden project which entailed planting flowers and trees at an elementary school located in an urban area of Miami Dade County. Now let's be real , I do not have a green thumb minus picking leaves my mom points out for her daily teas or climbing a tree for mangoes during the season. I was excited to at least give it a try and see where I could be of value. I slept over my sister's house the night before so I could be closer to the school and meet the early call time. I woke up ready to go until I realized the clothes I thought I packed were no where to be found. EPIC FAIL. So here I was with a pair of shirts , a sweatshirt and opened toed sandals. I was judging myself before I stepped outside the door and seriously contemplated how much value could I be digging holes with my toes out to play. I made a commitment so I headed out.
I was met by a woman named Monique , one of the organizers , along with a few other volunteers already knee deep in dirt. After introductions , everyone's first comment to me was "girl why do you have sandals on?!" (insert eye rolling emoji) . "I know , I know " I replied. It was all good , if anything they all knew I was serious if I was willing to sacrifice my feet. We completed a questionnaire to test our knowledge , if any , on the contribution of trees and plants and the importance they hold in our community. True of False, A green view through a classroom window can improve a student's performance. Take a wild guess. The answer is true. I thought about where I went to school especially in those primitive years and could recall plenty of trees and flowers for our viewing pleasure. I wondered, did it affect me as a student?
I envisioned if every early morning drop off, were only views of bare grounds , skim green buds and a mass area of weeds , dirt and rocks, what impact would that hold ? I can't imagine that it would leave me with a positive outlook or motivating mood for the day. Either way thinking about those things and being in the moment of learning how to plant my first tree allowed me to realize my work was a necessity. If the tiniest flower, noticed from the classroom window, could prompt happiness, motivation or intrigue to a young student then it is worth it.
We all undeniably put in a lot of work and effort to get the job done. Lead by our plant guru Roger, I learned about what I was doing and the proper technique to ensure the livelihood of our new green friends. We worked together to make an empty space into a green field that would potentially mesmerize the young minds and eyes of the school.
Things were not all roses and sunflowers. Why didn't anyone tell me that gardening was HARD work. I felt like I had a full body work out by the end of the day along with cuts and calluses to last me a few days. In order to begin planting , we had to pull weeds and create a suitable terrain. I was standing around more like " oh so we cant just start digging? " . There's a significant amount of care and patience that has to be acquired as well as an understanding that in order for things to bloom at it's full potential , they must be nurtured and treated as tenderly as you would care for yourself. I looked at each flower and could relate them to my own relationships. Whether it be with family or friends , it is imperative for us to nurture them , treat each with the tender care we would care for ourselves in order for them to flourish.
We were blessed with presence of a man who served us "fruit pizza" and shared his wisdom on living our best lives through natural foods and meditations while the soundtrack of Bob Marley's "Turn the lights down low" played. The day was , intimidating at first , at times exhausting , even draining yet it was also magical. I was able to put any of my stress, my worries or doubts aside for the moment and turn it all into positive energy for the sake of the children who may benefit from it. Needless to say I needed a major pedicure when it was all said and done but the enjoyment in my heart made up for that.
Liberty City Planting Project/Urban Green
Contact: Monique Moyer
Volunteer Info: Dates/Times TBA