The National Association for Landscape Professionals encourages lawn and landscape professionals to participate in Project EverGreen’s GreenCare for Troops program.
GreenCare for Troops is a 501c3 non-profit that provides complimentary basic lawn care and landscape maintenance services to military personnel with a deployed family member.
The program got its start in 2006. A Project EverGreen board member mentioned in a meeting that he was helping take care of a military family’s landscape maintenance because it was the right thing to do.
“We thought it was a great idea and started talking about how can we make this a nationwide program and it became an overnight success,” says Cindy Code, executive director of Project EverGreen.
Project EverGreen added on SnowCare for Troops in 2010.
“Our volunteers in our snow states indicated they didn’t want to leave their families high and dry in winter,” Code says.
The program is designed to take a weight off the shoulders of a military family member who has to take on all the responsibilities of the household. Code says it provides peace of mind and a space for kids and the spouse to relax after a crazy day.
Jolene Johnson of Manchester, New Hampshire, was facing a world of uncertainty and stress ahead of her husband’s Army deployment in late 2018. She says GreenCare for Troops helps military families in the most need of help.
“It’s the lower enlisted families that benefit the most from this program, and that’s something that those who volunteer can feel very good about,” Johnson says. “I can’t say enough about how much this service means to our family – I was really blown away by the good people out there willing to help.”
Because deployments ebb and flow with different durations, GreenCare for Troops can be helping at least 500 military families at any given moment and typically 1,000 families are helped over the course of a year.
“Giving back to military-based organizations is important to us because they risk their lives to protect us every single day,” says Dave Petti, owner of Turf Pride Lawn Care based in Mentor, Ohio. “Volunteering is the least that we can do to show our appreciation.”
Currently, the program has just under 3,000 active volunteers across the country. Ki Matsko, program director for GreenCare for Troops, says they need additional volunteers everywhere but some areas with particular urgent need are listed below:
- Florida – Jacksonville, Orange Park, Tampa
- Georgia – Warner Robins, Perry, cities near Robins Air Force Base
- Minnesota – across the state
- Ohio – Dayton
- Utha – Cities near Hill Air Force Base
- Vermont – across the state
- Virginia – Virginia Beach, Norfolk, Chesapeake, Newport News
Volunteers can select the services they’re willing to provide and the distance they’re willing to travel and the number of families they can help at one time.
“It’s a great way to give back to your community and to those that served your country, and we make it as easy as possible for you,” Matsko says. “We want to provide you with military families who are already on your current service routes. We wouldn’t expect a crew to go out the direction they don’t normally service.”
Matsko stresses that volunteers don’t need to feel like they should take on more families than they can handle.
“If every company at least stepped up to help one family what a difference that would make,” Matsko says.
Project EverGreen requires military families requesting the service to provide deployment papers and does all the backend work for landscape professionals, so all they have to do is provide the service. To protect the military family’s privacy, they are the ones to contact the landscape company. Volunteers are notified they’ve been matched but they can also call and verify if the family that has contacted them is the military family they’ve been assigned to help.
“I feel fortunate to be in a position where we can offer these military families our services at no charge – the truth is, I really love doing it, and more companies like us should be doing it,” says Dan Kindergan, owner of Kindergan Landscaping, based in Bergenfield, New Jersey.
GreenCare for Troops also provides a toolkit that has a news release, talking points and window stickers to promote a volunteer’s involvement in the program. They can share the press release with their communities to let them know how they’re giving back. Matsko adds that all of the services provided are considered charitable donations for tax purposes.
“It’s a win-win for them because people like to hire companies that are giving back in their community, and then it helps promote our program as well if they put that information out there,” Matsko says.
Click here to register as a volunteer.