HIGHLAND PARK, Michigan - Accelerated Action Day Works to Feed, Beautify with Outdoor Work
More than 500 Ford employees turned their attention away from cars and trucks for a day to concentrate on the local land and water.
The reason was simple. There was work to be done in the community.
The Ford volunteers stepped into the sunshine on World Environment Day equipped with rakes and shovels, plants and building materials. Ford’s nonprofit partners had created more than three dozen community service projects tailor made for a Ford Accelerated Action Day focused on the environment. One such project was an urban garden to provide home-grown vegetables to the Detroit Rescue Mission Ministries in Highland Park, Michigan.
"We always build a much bigger garden than we’d be able to maintain on our own, so we need volunteers. Getting these infusions of energy from groups like Ford makes it possible," said Chris Skellenger, executive director, Buckets of Rain. "We expect this garden to produce 50,000 servings of vegetables this year."
Skellenger said the volunteers do more than provide labor. "They’re fun, they’re self-motivated, and they come with much better ideas," he said. “They brainstorm beautifully for us."
In addition to planting vegetables, Ford volunteers also installed a drip irrigation system for the large urban garden. In the meantime, MODEL Teams of Ford volunteers across southeast Michigan constructed storage sheds, built an overlook deck at a wildlife refuge, rebuilt yurts at a Boy Scout camp, and planted trees and beautified the grounds at Vista Maria, a treatment center for at-risk girls.
"We live for volunteers to come in and help because there is so much to do all the time," said Phil Rushman, facilities supervisor, Vista Maria in Dearborn Heights. "We get so much work accomplished. We can have an entire building painted in a day when it takes us months to do."
"It’s really quality work that they do here and it’s something I’m proud that my Ford Motor Company comes out and assists with," said Mark Rathke, Ford volunteer. "This kind of beautification can do nothing but good, and it’s really good supportive work for the community."
Many of the participating agencies shared $46,000 in Ford grants to buy the tools, plants and other supplies needed to complete the day’s work. Nonprofit partners in southeast Michigan receiving up to $5,000 in grants for projects included Arbor Hospice, Starfish Family Services and several branches of Habitat for Humanity.
"I just love it," said Deanna Ells, Ford volunteer. "It’s wonderful and I love that people take advantage of it. There’s a real enthusiasm for it."
Ford employees also teamed up once again with Ford Green IT to collect unused computers, printers and other electronic equipment for recycling. Nearly 75,000 pounds of e-waste was recycled and kept out of landfills.
The next Ford Accelerated Action Day is September 11, during Ford Global Week of Caring. The theme is community building with a special emphasis on water projects.