Nicodemus Wilderness Project
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NWP Global Registry of Apprentice Ecologists - Ronald McDonald House Charities, Sacramento, California, USA

Ronald McDonald House Charities, Sacramento, California, USA
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Registered: December 2014
City/Town/Province: Folsom
Posts: 1
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Drip… drip… drip…
I began volunteering for the Ronald McDonald House Charities when I was ten years old, wanting desperately to become more involved in the charity that had done so much for my family. Being so young, they didn’t have much for me to do and made me, whether out of fear of me ruining something important or out of true need, their official weed puller of the property. I held this title proudly and did as much as could to make sure the gardens looked as beautiful as possible, hoping that the residents could see how much I cared. Since then, I have remained passionate about keeping the grounds beautiful and well-kept, and have managed to stay involved and participate in major landscaping work.
Having lived in a drought-burdened California my entire life, water conservation has always been an issue that I have had to be aware of. Therefore, I have always been a stickler for obvious wastes of water, and have tried to do my part to make people aware of their water consumption, from participating in Save the Water days to educating neighbors and friends about the benefits of smart sprinkler usage, such as the specific hours it is best to run the system.
One day this past summer, while I was volunteering at the Ronald McDonald House on a landscaping job, I decided to go behind the houses to see if I could find some more tools for the other volunteers. While I didn’t find what I was looking for, I encountered something far more intriguing.
Directly behind the biggest house were two broken pipes spewing well-water, feeding the crabgrass and other water sucking weeds. Old tree roots were damaging the building and preventing any new growth, and the few plants that were making an effort to survive were drowning due to the broken pipe. Upon asking the property manager about the issue, she replied that the House did not have the time nor the man-power to fix the pipes and plant a new garden. I came across the Nicodemus Wilderness Project website by chance when trying to see what I could do to help the Ronald McDonald House, and after viewing the dozens upon dozens of projects that other teens worldwide were undertaking, it dawned on me that I didn’t have to rely on someone else to make the project a reality- I could create the change myself. Though I had never led a landscaping project on the grounds, I realized that this was the perfect opportunity to make an impact, no matter how small, to make a difference for the two causes I am most passionate about: the Ronald McDonald House and water conservation.
I reached out to our local gardening store, Green Acres, and received a wealth of donations and advice from the store manager, Steve Linton. With a multi-factioned focus of making the area water friendly, a future home for friendly wildlife, as well as aesthetically pleasing to the House residents, we worked through the store’s entire catalogue of vegetation before choosing six lush and beautiful green plants that didn’t require much water, perfect for the arid California valley climate. After we received additional donations such as soil, fertilizer, wood chips, and, most importantly, new pipes and sprinkler heads, all that was left to do was to set the plan in motion.
A group of 20 of my friends and colleagues showed up at the Ronald McDonald House on a hot August morning to help me dig up tree roots, pull up crabgrass and other nasty water sucking weeds, plant new vegetation in the ground, and replace the long-broken sprinkler system. The area changed almost instantaneously, as weeds and dead plants were removed and fresh greenery took their place. But the most valuable change was what couldn’t be seen as easily; with the new water system in place, plants are watered individually, allowing each one to get exactly what it needs while simultaneously conserving water. A change could be seen in the attitude of the volunteers that came out that day as well, as they began to realize the effect that their work was having, not only on that day, but in the months to come.
Because of my project, the Ronald McDonald House is using less water, allowing them to redirect resources to other parts of the property that need the hydration. More importantly, I have triggered a domino effect for other regular volunteers at the House, who have since started their own eco-friendly projects around the property. I have had the pleasure of being a part of several projects on the property to implement bubblers and other water saving systems. With all of these projects taking place each month, the House’s utility bill has diminished significantly, and the extra money has contributed to their decision to expand and build a new complex that will be able to house and help 25 more families in need.
This project has significantly altered the way that I view problems important to me, as the huge success of the project has encouraged me to make change happen myself and not to rely on others to lead the way. As I plan to attend Saint Mary’s College of California next fall, a school focused on using one’s education to help others and promote change, I have a newfound confidence and drive to encourage others to do their part for any cause they see to be worth fighting for, and to follow through with more community and environmental projects myself.
Date: December 31, 2014 Views: 7788 File size: 32.7kb, 2345.0kb : 2448 x 2448
Hours Volunteered: 115
Volunteers: 22
Authors Age & Age Range of Volunteers: 17 & 16 to 60
Native Trees Planted: 2
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