There is nothing more fulfilling than being an engaged member of the local community. In the wake of the pandemic, many people have experienced a disconnect from their communities and may find it difficult to get back outside in general. If you have been looking for ways to become an active member who gives back to their town, we have a few easy ways you can help!
As you may know, RTEC Treecare has founded a non-profit organization that focuses on giving back to the local community through various programs. This year we are implementing our Grow! Program, which strives to provide access to fresh food for a historically disadvantaged group of people. We believe in doing what is right for people and the planet, and encourage you to join us on this mission to give back!
The Environmental Justice Alliance
The Environmental Justice Alliance is a non-profit organization that seeks to improve the health, safety, and appearance of historically underserved communities in the Washington, DC metropolitan area. Some of the the core values that the Environmental Justice Alliance believes is that everyone deserves:
- Protection from environmental and health hazards,
- Access to a healthy environment in which to live, learn, and work,
- An opportunity to participate in environmental decision-making that impact their communities.
This year the Environmental Justice Alliance has partnered with RTEC for the Grow! initiative. This program establishes community gardens in areas that would otherwise not have access to healthy fresh produce. Our combined goal is to construct a fruit and vegetable garden at a local shelter that houses and assists homeless youth, Second Story. Read on to learn about the amazing work Second Story has been doing in our community for decades!
About Second Story
Second Story is an organization that provides safe havens for local children and youth in need. Founded in 1972, Second Story has expanded over the years to include programs focused on helping homeless youth, young mothers, and teens in crisis. By providing housing and counseling, this organization gives disadvantaged youth a chance to start their “second story” in life.
We continue to work toward our vision of a community in which all young people are safe, live in a nurturing environment and have the opportunity to reach their full potential.
This year Second Story celebrates 50 years of helping our community! The programs have evolved over time, adapting to the needs of those in need of assistance in the northern Virginia area. Now with over ten service locations, Second Story works to break the cycles of abuse, poverty, and homelessness.
Together, the Environmental Justice Alliance and Second Story are working to provide healthy food to the shelter for homeless youth. The EJA will be building a fruit and vegetable garden on site at the Vienna location. This will give the children the opportunity to enjoy fresh food, the chance to learn a new skill, and will hopefully spark some joy! This project is being conducted in three major stages.
The first step to building the garden is tidying up the yard in preparation.
Yard Sales and Donations
The second step is to raise money for the garden through yard sales.
Building the Garden
The final step is to build the garden and plant fruits and vegetables!
So far, we have completed Phase One of the project. Last weekend, some members of RTEC and a few kind volunteers went to Second Story to prepare the yard. This included mowing the lawn, weeding the picnic area, removing some dead plants, and overall putting a little TLC into the yard. This way we have a great foundation to build the garden on. Check out the before and after photos below to see all the hard work our volunteers put in! Then read on to see how you can give us a helping hand.
We want to give Second Story the best garden we can! In order to help us with that, you can donate in several ways. One way you can help is by donating items to be sold at our yard sales. We are hosting one on Saturday, September 10th, so there is still time to donate items. All proceeds will go directly to the construction of the garden. Additionally, perhaps you have some gently used gardening tools that you don’t use anymore. If so, we could use them during our planting day! Of course, monetary donations are welcome as well.
Join us on Sunday, September 4th and Saturday, September 10th for some guilt-free retail therapy! We are hosting two yard sales to raise funds to build the garden! You can come out and shop from 7am to 11am. We will have everything from clothes, furniture, baby items, and more! All proceeds will be donated – so you won’t have post-buyers remorse knowing that your spending went to a good cause! The yard sale is being hosted in the Dunn Loring Volunteer Fire Department parking lot at 2148 Gallows Rd, Dunn Loring, VA, 22027.
We understand that not everyone will be able to shop or donate. Nevertheless, time is money, and we value your help. Are you curious about learning to build a raised garden bed? The EJA is still accepting volunteers for Phase Three – the planting day! If you are interesting in some fun outdoor work, you can sign up to help us out and we will teach you what we know! We are also looking for volunteers to help maintain the garden regularly. Just use the link at the bottom of this page to sign up!
Thank you to the volunteers who came out and helped us with Phase One!
Ready to get started? You can use the links below to donate directly to Second Story, sign up to volunteer, and to donate to the Grow! Imitative. The shelter relies on the kindness of the community to support their programs and to continue to change the lives of children in need. All it takes is a little bit of love from one person!