On the outset of the 4th of July holiday, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser joined participants from the Department of Youth Rehabilitation Services’ lawn care program in a mission to provide lawn maintenance services to city seniors.
Held on July 1 near the Brookland Metrorail station, the event highlighted the New Beginnings Youth Development Center’s Grass is Greener Lawn Care initiative, which provides youth transitioning back into the community with a chance to develop lawn maintenance skills and form community relationships, Bowser said.
“This program will help provide young people with skills they need to go out into the world and get employment,” Bowser said. “We are also focused on how we can help seniors and call attention to our back-to-basics priorities. Obviously, we have a lot of senior homeowners in our city, and they need help with basic home care services like lawn care.”
The mayor joined the youth participants of program, who wore bright green DYRS Lawn Care Services T-shirts, to tend to the lawn of 81-year-old Evelyn Young.
Young used to enjoy taking care of the garden in her backyard, but she is no longer able to lift mulch — “I’m too old for that” — and hiring a lawn-care service was “prohibitively expensive for someone on a fixed income,” said her daughter, Cheryl Gillette, 61.
“The biweekly service has been phenomenally helpful,” Gillette said.
The Grass is Greener program was launched in May by Carl Matthews, New Beginnings’ supervisor of facility operations, and currently serves 16 District residents on operation Saturdays alongside varied youth who work with mentors from the organization.
The program is also a part of DYRS’s larger philosophy of restorative justice which looks to increase the number of the youth participants.
“Our wish is to expand our program for the number of youths who participate and the number of community members served because the program could also have some potential entrepreneurial opportunities for those who participated after they leave New Beginnings,” said Clinton Lacey, DYRS director. “We believe that our young people can be restored to the community, and what better way to do that than to connect with elders.”