Posts Tagged ‘In Good Company’

West Coast Update

Our daily update from Timberland Earthkeeper Sandy McDowell, halfway through her week of community service and revitalization in West Oakland, CA:

Yesterday we installed solar panels on two houses in West Oakland.  The company we worked with is called Grid Alternatives: they supply the solar panels and we install, with their help.  I talked to a neighbor who said it reduced his electric bill to 8 dollars a month!  We will finish that job today, and tomorrow we are building raised garden beds in West Oakland for City Slicker Farms.

I have met some awesome people in the neighborhood who are passionate for a better life.  Can’t wait to share all of those stories.

Sandy

Postcards from California

Timberland Earthkeeper Sandy McDowell sent this short update from her week-long community service sabbatical in West Oakland, CA:

We arrived in California on Saturday and met the rest of our crew.  On Sunday, we did a tour of the California Missions and saw all of the murals that are historic to the area.  We then went to West Oakland and got some history on our project and work for the week ahead.

Today (Monday) was the first day of work.  We weeded and planted in Wildcat Canyon Creek, then moved on to West Oakland and planted bamboo to help with the ecosystem.  Tomorrow we start with City Slicker Farms (a local organization focused on meeting the immediate and basic needs for food security by creating high-yield urban farms and backyard gardens).  Having a awesome experience so far!

Sandy

Keeping Good Company in California

For the third year in a row, Timberland is proud to join forces with “In Good Company,” a coalition of companies dedicated to volunteerism.  As part of the program, candidates  from each of the companies participate in a week-long community service sabbatical in an area of need, working with local residents and nonprofit organizations to create positive impact where and how it is most needed.

For the first two years, In Good Company volunteers left their footprints and their impact in the city of New Orleans.  This year, sabbatical recipients will convene in the San Francisco neighborhood of West Oakland – a neighborhood that suffers disproportionately from asthma, diabetes, obesity and other environment-related issues.  Over the course of their week-long service experience, volunteers will help to create sustainable food solutions, green neighborhood homes and work on environmental restoration issues to make life a little easier for West Oakland residents.

We’re pleased to introduce the two members of Team Timberland who head out to West Oakland this weekend to begin their week-long service sabbatical and will be sharing their experience with us here on the Earthkeepers blog:

Courtney Baumann lives in Austin, TX and has been a sales manager at Timberland’s retail outlet in San Marcos for over seven years. Her passions include working with plants and playing with her pet turtle. Four years ago, Courtney started a recycling program at her mall, which continues to be a success!

Sandy McDowell is a fifteen year Timberland veteran, currently serving as the assistant manager at the Timberland store in Grove City, PA.  An “empty nester,” Sandy and her husband grow organic food and sell it at a low cost to their local community.

We’ll be hearing more from Courtney and Sandy over the course of their week in West Oakland – stay tuned.

Painting, Progress and Puppies

This is the final update from Timberland Earthkeeper Lynn Woodrum, who spent last week lending her time and energy to rebuilding efforts in New Orleans.  Our thanks to Lynn, and fellow Earthkeeper MacKenzie Mosca, for sharing their experience with us .

Friday, November 13

The day started well with our team getting a lot of our house project completed. With the inside mostly finished, it was time to give the outside a new coat of sea green paint. The house really came a long way from Monday, with only one room we didn’t finish – the handicap-accessible bathroom which professionals need to do.

All week a little puppy had visited us at the house site, she was so cute. The owner came over on Friday and offered to give the puppy to an electrician (Steve) who worked with all of us and the Rebuilding Together group. Needless to say it was a tearful moment… he named his new puppy Holly, as the house is located on Hollygrove St.

About 12:30 we wrapped up the day and said our goodbyes to the Rebuilding Together employees and to Ms. Alice (the new home owner) and her family. Another tearful moment.  Then we went back to the garden project and what a sight it was!  The last time I was there was on Monday, and it looked so different. A walkway had been added, more fruit trees, a trench dug, and the privacy fence started. It was just beautiful!

I feel like I walked away with many new lifelong friends and helped to rebuild a community. I think that In Good Company gave back hope to many families by just being there; showing people that there are others out there willing to get dirty, and help others. My week in New Orleans showed me how much I have, and how important family is to me. If there is ever a chance to help again, I hope that more people will get involved and experience this opportunity!

- Lynn Woodrum

Bayou Rebirth

Let me start by saying I am very afraid of water.

Today, we joined a wetlands restoration organization — Bayou Rebirth — and were able to go canoeing in a swamp to view the different types of marsh, trees, and wildlife (birds). So, MacKenzie and I pulled on our boots and were a canoe team. She had done it before … for myself, refer back to the first sentence of this blog post. Thank goodness for MacKenzie for getting me out of there alive!

The canoe ride lasted about 2 hours, and then we all loaded up to go plant some marsh and other brush for the water to build up and restore some of the habitats. We actually saw an alligator today, but it was far away — don’t worry! We also went to the spillway to view the levee, large ships, and barges. It was another wonderful day … but just so everyone knows I will probably not do the canoeing thing again.

- Lynn Woodrum

Congratulations to Timberland Earthkeeper Lynn for making it safely back to dry land … and our thanks to her for continuing to share updates from her week-long service sabbatical in New Orleans .

Moving Pictures

Thanks to Timberland Earthkeepers Lynn and MacKenzie for the following update from their week-long service sabbatical in New Orleans :

Today was a fantastic day! The day started @ 7 am with breakfast, then everyone loaded into 5 vans and off for a day of working. We have 2 projects for the week, The garden project, and the house project. I went to the garden project today, where we shoveled and sifted dirt to be used for fruit trees and vegetables and removed weeds and debris to make way for a privacy fence still to be built.

Everyone’s help is needed at the house project, trying to get it ready for the family to move into it this week. The house needs a lot of TLC – painting, caulking, adding new trim, and the list goes on! I went over and helped with the caulking on the outside of the house, and hopefully if the rain goes away we’ll be able to do some outside painting tomorrow.

My new found friends make each project so much fun!

This is very short and sweet, as supper is ready – pasta night – and I can’t wait to lay down!

- Lynn Woodrum

Notes From New Orleans

We’re pleased to offer these first updates from Timberland’s own Lynn Woodrum, one of two employees spending the week in New Orleans to help rebuild a community in need:

Saturday, November 7

Lots of thoughts went through my head as I sat in airports today. What will the other people be like?  Will we all get along? What is New Orleans going to be like?

Well, I am able to answer the first question for now. Everyone has arrived and all are great! Every person is willing to jump in and help with anything, from cooking to decorating.

We had a wonderful dinner tonight to socialize with everyone.  It consisted of chicken tortillas, rice, and some great caramel ice cream. We all had a great time getting to know one another. Cleanup was fast as everyone was willing to pitch in and help.  Now to try to get some sleep (been up since 2 am) and see what tomorrow brings!

Sunday, November 8

Today was a very adventurous day! It started out with a fabulous breakfast, chore sign ups, a tour, and a wonderful dinner!

We toured the Hollygrove Market with our guide, Pam. The market was created last year by the In Good Company team and has really grown! It grows fruits and vegetables for the local community for $25 a week for 1 box — every family has a chance to receive some of the great food.

As we proceeded on the tour, it was just devastating to still see so many homes that were still boarded up, with dates painted on their front doors showing when someone checked the house for residents in the wake of Hurricane Katrina . The hurricane hit on August 28, 2005 — and some of the dates we saw on houses were as far out at September 18! We also learned that many building contractors came in following Hurricane Katrina and attempted to refurbish homes, but didn’t always do the grandest job – and that when homeowners then tried to contact the contractors, they had packed up and left without finishing needed requirements. Apparently a large amount of people were overtaken by these contractors, and are now trying to do the best they can with what they have. Our tour was 4 hours long and it really makes you very thankful for what you have.

We arrived at Cafe Reconcile at 6:00 to have dinner, and the food was so great! This cafe is all about giving back to the community and teaching local students the etiquette of the restaurant atmosphere. All the fruits and vegetables served there are grown within the local community, and all the leftovers (if any) are composted back into the garden. Everyone is very big on the whole recycling process and it is so great!

It has been another great day of fellowship, food, and fun. Tomorrow I will be going to a garden to help build a fence around it, weather permitting …

Gearing Up for Good Company

A year ago, we chronicled the journey of Timberland’s community engagement coordinator Brianne Wood as she joined 25 fellow volunteers from other companies for a week of Earthkeeping and community building in New Orleans .   This year, we’re proud to be packing up two of our Timberland colleagues for the second annual In Good Company experience:

  • Lynn Woodrum works in the human resources department at Timberland’s Danville, Kentucky distribution center.  She is bravely leaving four children, ages 17 to 17 months, in the capable hands of her husband as she sets off for a week of restoration and revitalization in New Orleans.  Lynn’s biggest concerns heading into the service week: “Have I taken care of my responsibilities for next week at home, at work?  Am I taking enough supplies for my trip?  Have I remembered to buy all the needed necessities for home?”  A mom’s work is never done …
  • MacKenzie Mosca is an associate at Timberland’s factory outlet store in Long Island, New York.  An outdoor enthusiast with a penchant for hiking, the beach and her three dogs, MacKenzie is looking forward to personally contributing to post-Katrina rebuilding efforts in New Orleans.  In her own words, “People working together … are capable of limitless possibilities.”

Please stay tuned, as we’ll be featuring regular updates from Lynn and MacKenzie throughout their weeklong service experience here on the Earthkeeper blog … interested Earthkeepers can also follow MacKenzie on Twitter (Timberland_MacK).  We wish them both safe travels, and applaud their willingness to take time out from their personal and professional lives to devote hours and effort to creating a positive impact for a community in need.

And On the Last Day, We Created:

A community.

Saturday, November 8

The last day together has come.  Eight days ago it seemed as though the week would last an eternity.  Today being our final day together, we sit and wish it could be longer.

Tonight I felt completed in our efforts from the week.  The families from Hollygrove cooked up a buffet of local cuisine and soul food. We sat in the NOFFN building, surrounded by smiling, proud and loving people from the neighborhood.  Alongside the sounds of laughter, local musicians playing trombones and singing, there we were.

It was so nice to come together for good food, good music and good people.  We spent a final evening with the familiar faces from the week and faces we had never seen but still had a familiar feel.

We ended the evening with the musician announcing that he would sing one final song … one he felt he might never feel honored and inspired enough to sing again, but after all that has happened of late, he felt proud enough to sing the words.  He began singing the Star Spangled Banner and the entire room got on its feet and began singing along.  There was such passion and love in that room.

This week brought me personal challenges and pushed me outside my comfort zone in many ways, but the final product from all that I saw and experienced FAR out weighed any possible downsides. 

This week we helped to create a community in New Orleans; most importantly we created a community within ourselves.  This “In Good Company” group will leave as partners in the business sense and friends in the personal sense.

I feel honored to have had this experience.  As I sign off from New Orleans, my wish to this resilient city is hope and strength to continue fighting the battle.  I hope you have enjoyed the ride with me and feel inspired to continue the ripple forward.

We thank Brianne Wood for sharing her experience in New Orleans with all of us here at Earthkeepers.  To learn more about the In Good Company initiative, please visit their blog.

Community Greening, As It Is Meant To Be

Below, Timberland’s Brianne Wood continues to share her experiences with us from a week of community building and restoration in New Orleans as part of the In Good Company initiative:

Friday, November 7

Today I worked with the New Orleans Food and Farm Network (NOFFN).  This organization represents every element of community greening possible.

The area of Hollygrove has a 40% poverty rating.  Almost half of the residents are considered below low income and are officially in the poverty bracket.  It has been a longstanding and widely-known fact that healthy, fresh food is largely unavailable to the people in this neighborhood.

When Katrina hit, decimating most of this area, the neighborhood stood up and said they wanted to rebuild, but not just rebuild: rebuild green, rebuild healthy and rebuild strong.  They wanted to implement tools and resources to help their community be a better place. 

What started as the desire to help residents build backyard gardens turned into a grand vision of having a local food market and education center.  They are incorporating wonderful things such a rain-catch system to water their plants, green roof tops, an outdoor classroom and much more.

It was redeeming to see a community pulling together to make a stand and make a motion for positive change.