By Travis Swinford and Patrick Bradford
YWCA Central Alabama
On January 20, the YWCA’s AmeriCorps members spent their Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day as a national day of community service. The 33 members, along with the support of volunteers, including the YWCA’s new CEO Yolanda Sullivan, worked together to enhance the beauty and vitality of the historic Woodlawn community in honor of King’s legacy of service for the sake of others. The AmeriCorps members’ service also contributed to the ongoing effort of the YWCA’s YWoodlawn Revitalization Project, which has, over the past seven years, transformed several acres of once blighted housing into an award-winning neighborhood. The sunny weather and rich soil were great signs of good things to come.
Members shared the task of creating raised flower beds for a garden designed by current AmeriCorps member and YWoodlawn Healthy Living Coordinator Molly Gross. She along with other members built the beds, blocked and removed weeds, laid foundational materials in the beds and built a worm composter. The raised garden beds are great for a community that cannot work in the garden full time because they’re less maintenance and can grow more food in a shorter amount of time.
“It’s really exciting to see this plan go into action,” said Gross. “Communities all over the country live in food deserts or neighborhoods where there is little or no access to fresh, healthy and affordable food. I’m hoping to play a part in changing that for the Woodlawn community.”
Along with the newly developed learning garden, YWoodlawn also features 58 units of service-enriched permanent housing, a first class shelter for families experiencing the crisis of homelessness, the area’s only playground and a Family Resource Center that supports the neighborhood through a range of programs for those with low and very low incomes.
Chief Housing Officer Jennifer Clarke shares Gross’ enthusiasm: “The energy and commitment our AmeriCorps members brought to the YWoodlawn Teaching Garden on MLK Day was not only heartwarming, but it was also perfectly timed! With these multiple, large planting beds constructed, the neighborhood is now able to look forward to a beautiful garden, great opportunities to learn and a renewed connectedness to healthy, natural foods.”
If you would like to find out more about how you can help the YWCA Central Alabama’s mission to revive the Woodlawn community, click here.
Travis Swinford is a graduate of the University of Montevallo where he received an Interdisciplinary Studies Bachelor’s Degree in Philosophy and Literature. Travis serves as the Communications Specialist at the YWCA Central Alabama and is also a local freelance event promoter and designer.
Patrick Bradford is a native of Birmingham, Alabama who studied art at Berea College and earned a Master of Journalism from Florida A&M University. He served for two years as an AmeriCorps member with the YWCA Central Alabama and now works as the Media Manager.
Cross-posted with permission from the YWCA Central Alabama