Giving back really bears fruit
Guest blogger Jordan McKerney is a marketing communications professional and a volunteer with the United Way Emerging Leaders marketing committee, where she focuses on planning and promoting volunteer opportunities.
It’s wonderful to spend a summer Saturday out in the garden. It’s even better to spend a summer Saturday gardening in a way that will help feed hundreds of families in your community. That’s exactly what a group of United Way Emerging Leaders did recently by volunteering with City Fruit, an organization dedicated to the cultivation of urban fruit in order to nourish people, build community and protect the climate.
If you’ve ever jogged or biked along the Burke Gilman Trail, you’ve likely sped right by several of City Fruit’s urban orchards. But once you look more closely, you can see apple trees, pear trees, fig trees, grape vines and more nestled into the brush—all being cared for to benefit the community and our environment.
City Fruit not only promotes fruit tree conservation and stewardship, but they also donate fruit to organizations like the White Center Food Bank, Rainier Valley Food Bank, El Centro De la Raza and others. In 2014, City Fruit donated more than 22,000 pounds of fruit to 40 food banks, schools, and community organizations.
City Fruit’s mission aligns with United Way’s focus on keeping families stable by providing access to nutritious food. While City Fruit provides food donations to El Centro, White Center and Rainier Valley Food Banks, United Way grants over $588,000 each year to those same agencies to distribute food. It’s a great example of the importance of partnerships and how our community is working together to create a lasting difference. But donating fruit to families in need all starts with healthy fruit trees – and that starts with volunteers.
During our Emerging Leaders Second Saturday event, we weeded and mulched 30 fruit trees to keep them hydrated and producing better fruit. We also chopped blackberry vines to help make the pathways between the trees easier for volunteers to navigate. One group even created a dirt “stairway” to improve the access to one section—talk about the power of committed, inventive volunteers!
As we wrapped up the day, a family biking along the trail slowed down to shout, “Thank you!” to our volunteer group. It was a welcome reminder of the importance of this type of work to our community and the far-reaching impact that our efforts that day will have.
Emerging Leaders is a group for people in their 20s or 30s who are interested in getting involved with their community through United Way. Sign up to receive monthly invitations to upcoming events to support local youth and meet other like-minded young professionals while you’re at it!