Last Service Day at the West Duwamish Greenbelt

Tamping at the West Duwamish Greenbelt

The 2010-2011 City Year Seattle year is coming to an end! Our last Comcast sponsored service project was on May 13th, at the West Duwamish Greenbelt. Throughout the day, we partnered with Seattle Parks and Recreation and the Washington Conservation Corps to finish the start of a trail to make it more inviting to others, continue a different trail and mulch an area to encourage the growth of native species. It’s amazing to think of all the work City Year has done the six times we’ve been there.

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The work was exhausting and at times, very muddy. But we were able to accomplish a lot and as Jacobo Jimenez, our partner over at Seattle Parks and Recreation, said to us,

“The work that you’ve done is amazing. Creating these trails, working in the park six times, for more than eight hours each time and to do it with flair and a good sense of humor – thank you. When I was a child, the parks were always the place for me to go […] and you are recreating that experience for others.”

Over the course of the year, Comcast has sponsored City Year Seattle service projects like prepping with the Muscular Dystrophy Association for their annual Hop-a-Thon, gardening at the Bailey-Boushay House and Garfield High School, and cleaning kitchens for homeless women at the Elizabeth Gregory Home. We have cleared fields of Scotch broom, created beautifully paved trails for the people in Seattle’s communities and literally carried tons of rocks. We accomplished so much for our community during Fridays this year, and thank you, Comcast, for helping us make all of that possible.

Text by Sherry Tiao, City Year Seattle/King County External Relations Project Leader

Comcast Signature Service at Magnuson Park!

Recently, City Year Seattle went to Magnuson Park off Lake Washington. Magnuson Park is the second-largest park in Seattle with  grasslands, wooded hillsides, wetlands and shoreline. Although it was once a naval airfield, ten acres of concrete paving were removed last year and community volunteers have been actively working to restore the park.

City Year Seattle, with Comcast’s Signature Service Sponsorship and in collaboration with the Washington Conservation Corps and Seattle Parks and Recreation, was able to continue that process. We rebuilt trails and removed brush, as well as cleared the ever-present invasive Himalayan blackberry and a species that was new to City Year Seattle: Scotch broom. Native to western and central Europe, the plant crowds out native species and destroys wildlife habitats in North America. Every year, it costs the timber industry millions of dollars and inhibits reforestation. We were able to clear an entire field of Scotch broom with some impressively large specimens and prevent new seeds from being spread around the Pacific Northwest.

As one community member said as she walked by, “Thank you so much for your work here. It really makes a difference.” A special thank you to Comcast for helping us make that difference!

Text by Sherry Tiao, City Year Seattle/King County External Relations Project Leader

Photos by Melissa Jensen, City Year Seattle/King County corps member at the JPMorgan Chase/NELA Diplomas Now Team at Denny International Middle School

Finishing Our Work: Comcast Signature Service at the West Duwamish Greenbelt

City Year and Comcast

The last time we were at the West Duwamish Greenbelt, City Year Seattle shifted 28 tons of rocks and created 81 feet of base layer rock for a new raised trail – but we didn’t quite finish. A few Fridays ago, with Comcast’s Signature Service Sponsorship, we returned to finish the trail and begin several other projects because there’s always more service to be done!

We began a smaller gravel trail deeper in the forest, trimmed trees and bushes that were growing too close to the edge of trails and cleared invasive blackberry. By the end of the day, we had completely finished the raised trail, beautified the forest and helped to protect the forest from encroaching blackberry.  As Jacobo Jimenez of Seattle Parks and Recreation said last time, “The trail that you saw here earlier today? We used to have to rebuild it on an annual basis.” Now he doesn’t and the Seattle community can enjoy our parks year-round.

Take a look at the slideshow below to see what our day was like. Thank you Comcast, for your support of our work and its results!

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Text and photos by Sherry Tiao, City Year Seattle/King County External Relations Project Leader

Comcast Signature Service around Seattle!

Comcast and City Year at Bailey-Boushay House

Recently City Year Seattle, with the help of Comcast’s Signature Service Sponsorship, teamed up to show Seattle all the work that a group of dedicated idealists can accomplish in a day. Corps members met at three different places:

At the Bailey-Boushay House, we learned about the history and mission of the place prior to service, which greatly contributed to our motivation and work ethic. To maintain the aesthetic beauty and artistic nature of the Bailey-Boushay House, we worked within the gardens, removing invasive species and preserving general upkeep.

David Pavlik, the volunteer program manager, conducted tours of the facility for corps members, allowing us to view the different art mediums distributed throughout the building. Pavlik also emphasized the importance of the facility’s numerous volunteers and their valued efforts to keep spirits alive and well.

After reflecting on our work at the end of the day, we were motivated to create our own piece of art for the Bailey-Boushay House. Inspired by a memorial branch in the mediation room, we constructed a branch-based piece of our own for the volunteer room. We wanted volunteers to have a place to hang their memories of the BBH, to give them an outlet for remembrance and hope.

Comcast and City Year at Duwamish Longhouse

Meanwhile, other corps members were at the Duwamish Longhouse, which sits by the river of the same name and is squeezed in the valley between West Seattle and the rest of the city. The current Chair of the tribe, Ms. Cecile Hansen, told us of her people’s tumultuous history and the injustices they are still fighting to this day.The difficult ongoing fight for federal tribal recognition seemed to be at the forefront of her mind, but her strength and sense of hopefulness were inspiring. City Year Seattle corps members helped the Longhouse staff create a multi-tiered garden and lent a hand in sprucing up their grounds for the springtime.

At the end of the day, we talked about the tribe’s painful history and their perseverance in the face of so much adversity, as well as what it meant to have given our time and energy to their cause. Indeed, our own part may have been small, but the garden we planted can now be seen by all as they enter the place that Seattle’s first people call their own.

Our service always feels purposeful, but working at the Elizabeth Gregory Home was truly inspiring. The Elizabeth Gregory Home is a two-year program that graduates its women at the end with job training and greater potential for success, and provides transitional housing and individualized case management to single adult women who are trying to overcome overwhelming obstacles. In a question and answer session, we were told that nearly 60% of the women who go through EGH were victims of domestic abuse and made homeless after fleeing their difficult situations.

Corps members at the Elizabeth Gregory Home spent the morning cleaning and organizing the kitchen. We scrubbed down the walls, stove, and washing machine and organized all the drawers and spices, as well as took inventory and cleaned out the pantry. The women take great care of the home but with a permanent staff of only two, there just isn’t enough time to do certain housekeeping tasks. When we left that afternoon, the oven and walls sparkled, drawers that had once been crammed with randomly placed kitchen items organized, and about 100 pounds of expired pantry items composted. One corps member said, “It felt so great doing all those little housekeeping tasks. Those women have bigger obstacles to overcome – I’m glad we could help them out in that small way.”

Many thanks to Comcast for sponsoring our service and helping to make our work possible. View our gallery to see more pictures of our corps members in action!

Text and photos by Melissa Jensen, Roukiatou Aboubacar and Malia Makowski, City Year Seattle/King County corps members

“Are You A Firefighter?” Thornton Creek Service Day

Morning Circle

Two weeks ago at Thornton Creek Elementary School, children asked City Year corps members, “Are you a fire fighter?” and “What’s with all the red people?” Thornton Creek Elementary School is an alternative elementary school that is based on the Expeditionary Learning Outward Bound (ELOB) model. The school also follows what they call the 10 Design Principles, one of which is Service and Compassion – how fitting! City Year Seattle and Starbucks volunteers devoted themselves to service at the school to create a more welcoming environment for all the students.

In Seattle Public Schools there are three gardeners responsible for 20 schools each. Needless to say, help is always appreciated. City Year beautified the exterior of the school, painted one of the new portables, and gave classroom presentations about what City Year does and the importance of service.

Corps members took on the arduous task of removing weeds and other invasive plants. In one section of the lawn, corps members removed a thick monster plant that stood three feet tall, six feet wide and was covered in thorns. Nevertheless, corps members armed with their plant cutters and tenacious attitude were able to take down all the weeds in the lawn and the school’s community gardens. Thornton Creek students are now able to plant native species in the gardens for science class.

Corps Members mulching the garden

After the removal was complete, corps members mulched the entire area and made sure the front lawn looked neat and tidy.  As this was going on, other corps members were painting the school portable, which will become a classroom in the future.

Corps Member painting the portable

Painting the portable was a fun experience. Seven corps members turned the portable from a drab place to a bright and wonderful environment for learning. It took about an hour to prep the room for painting as corps members laid out tarp, taped off outlets and switches and covered the dry erase board before beginning the revitalization process.

With rollers and brushes in hand, everyone dove in. After three hours, two coats of paint and touch up work, corps members has successfully transformed the portable. Principal John Minor said,

“I didn’t realize how dark this room was until after you painted it; it looks wonderful!”

He was so impressed with all the work going on that he ordered pizza for all the corps members and Starbucks volunteers, which was a wonderful surprise after a few hard hours of service.

Corps Members speaking to class

Three corps members had the opportunity to visit fifth grade classes to talk about the role of service in our communities and lives.  Because of the emphasis of service in Thornton Creek’s learning model, our insight did not seem novel to these bright-eyed learners.

Classroom circle

Once a month, the Thornton Creek fifth graders travel to the Northwest Food Bank to help package and distribute food to those in need. We asked the students to give us some examples of service they do outside of school and the response was amazing. The students were so eager to share their insight on service, we didn’t have time to hear from them all.

“I volunteer at the animal shelter with my parents once a week.”

– Jesse

“I help out my older neighbor. I grab his mail and take out his trash when he needs it.”

– Isaac

Their earnest desire to contribute was incredibly inspiring. We left feeling reaffirmed in our work and could do nothing else but talk about the level of engagement and respect we received. Then we laced up our boots and walked back out to get our hands in the dirt.

Text by Kendall Morgan City Year Seattle/King County corps members

Photos by Adam Nance, City Year Seattle/King County Development Director