Our volunteers are the heart and soul of our program. They give tirelessly to share the gift of green yards and landscapes to help military families and disabled veterans in need.
Want to Share Your Volunteer Story?
If you want to share your GreenCare or SnowCare for Troops volunteer story contact Project EverGreen’s Jeff Fenner to arrange an interview and tell your story!
Mother Knows Best – Even When It Comes to Lawn Care
On a regular day, Cara Williams seems like the typical mother who is raising toddlers in Buda, Texas, a suburb of Austin, and working hard to keep up with her own chaotic schedule. But, despite a busy plate, Williams is always determined to give back to her community.
When Williams learned about Project EverGreen’s GreenCare for Troops, she knew that it was the perfect opportunity for her to support her community by volunteering to help our military personnel and veterans through the gift of green space. She is currently helping one military family with lawn care.
Although Williams is not a professional landscaper, she grew up in the country with a family full of farmers. Her father taught her everything she knows and she takes deep pride in her landscaping skills. What better way to use her talents than by helping our military heroes?
This volunteer opportunity is near and dear to Williams’ heart; she knows how difficult a military deployment can be on a family. Her grandfather and uncle were in the Navy and she has several friends who have served in the Army.
She recalls that one of her closest friends was deployed to Iraq in 2010. Williams says that it was a “very scary time,” but it allowed her to grow. She has the utmost respect for the men and women who give up everything to fight for our country.
Williams says that volunteering is extremely rewarding, “even if it’s just the simple task of lawn maintenance.”
“GreenCare for Troops is all about bringing our community together to help those that can’t do basic yard maintenance,” says Williams. “Families with children become a single parent household during deployments and helping out in this aspect is one less thing that they have to worry about.”
And Williams has experienced first-hand the powerful impact that her service has on the families she volunteers to help. The family she has serviced has been gracious and grateful, but at the end of the day, Williams cannot help but to thank them for allowing her to help.
GreenCare for Troops is also grateful to have Williams as a volunteer. “Cara Williams is a great example of someone who wants to give back to those who have served our country,” says Nici Trem, program manager of GreenCare for Troops. “She is a busy mom who is not a professional landscaper. She is a caring, giving volunteer who is thankful to our military both past and present. Volunteering is her way of thanking them. She is an inspiration to all of us who are not professional landscapers who may think they can’t volunteer with GreenCare for Troops but really can.”
Volunteer Makes His Pitch for GreenCare for Troops
and Military Families
Despite having grown up more than 8,000 miles from his new home, Nathan Newlands knows what it’s like to serve and sacrifice.
A native Australian and veteran himself – Newlands served in the Australian Air Force, he knows first-hand how important the services of both the GreenCare and SnowCare for Troops initiatives are to military families.
“I know how hard it can be for military families when a spouse is deployed, and our participation in both programs is fueled by our desire to help out and make a difference,” says Newlands, who just recently passed his U.S. citizenship exam. “It is an awesome feeling to do something for them.”
A father of two young daughters, Newlands met Spring Touch Lawn & Pest Control founder Marv Kotte’s daughter while she was studying in Australia, and the two ended up marrying and returning to United States.
With a background in horticulture, Newlands joined Spring Touch eight years ago and today serves as the growing company’s vice president of operations. The company provides lawn care, irrigation and perimeter pest control services to consumers in the southern suburbs of Minneapolis.
Newlands says Spring Touch’s involvement with Project EverGreen started with SnowCare for Troops – a natural fit for the Minnesota weather – and expanded to GreenCare for Troops a few years back.
“We have been able to help out several families and disabled veterans during our time with both programs and we want to do more,” says Newlands.
Participating in the programs also lifts the spirits of the Spring Touch employees who deliver the services, according to Newlands.
“It gives our lawn care technicians a lift and it becomes more than just another stop on their route,” says Newlands. “Seeing what it means to the families and vets lets them know the services they are providing truly mean something.”
To help further the mission of GreenCare for Troops and secure new volunteers, Spring Touch requires its franchisees to register with the program as part of their contract.
“Our mission as a company is to help others realize their dream of starting or growing their own business, and part of that is establishing a culture of giving within the communities where they live and work,” says Newlands.
Spring Touch also offers discounts to veterans interested in becoming a franchisee.
“GreenCare for Troops is a perfect fit for our industry and we want to make sure as many of our peers join us in this great program,” says Newland. “These families and veterans have done right by us and it is only right we give back to them.”
Wearing The Cause on Your Sleeve – Literally
All it took was a chance encounter during last year’s GIE + EXPO to convince David Stanaway of Stanaway Land Designs in Boonville, Missouri to register to be a GreenCare for Troops volunteer. When he and a co-worker, Aaron Bullard, a U.S. Army combat veteran who served in Iraq, learned more about the program’s mission and who it served, they jumped in with both feet.
“We were not aware of the GreenCare for Troops program before we attended the show and we said to one another, ‘This is something we have to be part of,’” says Stanaway. “The program had special meaning to Aaron since he is a combat veteran and we both thought it would be a great way to honor his and others service.”
Stanaway was excited to promote his involvement with the program and wanted to encourage other landscapers and lawn care professionals to join him. In his search for a unique way to do it, he remembered the t-shirt design contest Project EverGreen and Greencare for Troops Presenting Sponsor Nufarm ran during the show and he found his inspiration.
“We have a customer who owns a t-shirt shop and we thought what better way to honor our military personnel and veterans and promote the program than by having our employees wear shirts with the GreenCare for Troops logo on them,” recalls Stanaway.
Stanaway, whose operation includes a greenhouse and retail location, says with input from Aaron and other employees, they came up with a design that features the GreenCare for Troops logo on the sleeve. The feedback from his crews has been very positive, and he plans on selling the shirts and donating the proceeds to GreenCare for Troops.
“We have so much respect for those who are serving and for their families back home, and this is one small way we can honor that service,” adds Stanaway.
For Bullard, being part of GreenCare for Troops means he is able to help out his fellow veterans and their families – something he knows the importance of very well.
“It means a lot to at least have the chance to get out and help vets like me that are unable or less fortunate coming out having served in the Middle East,” says Bullard. “Maybe it will help to ease some of the burdens that I can truly relate to having had to leave my family behind on my tours.”
Stanaway has also pledged to donate 10 percent of his consultation fees to the program for any landscape design projects he sells this year. He plans on making the donations in the name of the customer as a way to spread the word even further.
The company, which started as a greenhouse founded by Stanaway’s parents in 1998, added landscape services a year after and has evolved into a full-service design operation.
This summer Stanaway has been matched with a family and looks forward to giving back to those who sacrifice so much.
“We want to be a positive influence within the community and give back to those individuals who support our freedom and give us the ability to do what we do every day,” says Stanaway. “If we can take a burden, even a small one, off of a military family and give them one less thing to worry about, it’s the least we can do.”
Dixon Landscaping & Design / High Point, North Carolina
Tyler Dixon: Still Delivering On His Mission
A few years ago Tyler Dixon was sitting in his vehicle in between appointments selling insurance and he noticed quite a few lawn care and landscape company trucks passing by his vantage point.
“There had to be at least 10 different trucks pass by where I was parked and it got me thinking that I could do this and make some extra money in my downtime,” says Dixon, a 15-year Navy veteran and a GreenCare for Troops volunteer in High Point, North Carolina.
After buying a mower for $50 and strapping it to the back of a trailer, Dixon Landscaping & Design was born.
“I never intended to go into landscaping full-time, it was just going to be a way to make some extra money to help support my family at a time when we really needed it,” recalls Dixon. “I was looking for a change and it has turned into something that has blessed me in more ways than I can say.”
While his business is only several years old, Dixon himself has had more than his share of experience dealing with a condition that impact thousands of veterans – post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
“When most people think of a disabled veteran the image they have is of someone in a wheelchair or missing a limb but it is not always physical,” explains Dixon, who was a submariner during his time in the Navy and is a married father of four. “Every veteran has his or her struggles but you never truly give up trying to get better and moving on.”
Project EverGreen visited with Dixon and asked him why he registered to become a GreenCare for Troops volunteer and what it truly means to a military family or disabled veteran to receive these services.
Q: What made you decide to volunteer for GreenCare for Troops?
A: It is a way for me to provide a much-needed service to my fellow veteran brothers and sisters, reduce their stress and help them move on with their daily lives. They can spend more time focusing on taking care of their families – getting the kids to school, making a doctor’s appointment or just going for ice cream and spend quality time together. Most military families do not have their own family nearby to lean on and they can end up feeling like they are on an island. Receiving these services checks an important box for them.
Q: What don’t people understand about the challenges military families face during a deployment or for veterans transitioning back from their service?
A: Every day is a challenge. Before your deployment you have a normal 8 to 5 job and you come home every night. When you are deployed your world, and your family’s world, is turned upside down. The emotional, mental and physical support is gone. For veterans transiting back into everyday society, especially those who suffer from a physical disability or PTSD, the challenges can be taller. There is a veteran in our neighborhood who doesn’t want to be outside working in his yard because of loud noises and sudden movements. Helping him out with something as simple as mowing his lawn lets him know someone is there for him. Military members are used to handling everything on their own and the transition back into civilian life can be hard. They are reluctant to reach out and ask for help, and think they can handle it. I speak from experience on this.
Q: What are your expectations of being a volunteer?
A: My expectation is to help people to get through things easier than I did. Taking one thing off their list could make a big difference for someone.
The impact of GreenCare for Troops on military families and disabled veterans is far greater than volunteers will ever know. The family may not send you a thank you note or text but the kindness you are showing them is truly appreciated.
LAMMSCAPES! / Glendale, Wisconsin
Hans Lamm: Doing Double Duty
Growing up in the family business afforded Hans Lamm a chance to see and learn how important it is to establish a connection with the community you serve.
Lamm’s father, John, a Navy veteran, started landscaping in 1960 in Glendale, Wisconsin, north of Milwaukee, focusing on providing superior landscape services to growing suburban communities. Following a move to nearby Jackson, Wisconsin, Lamm expanded his full-service landscape operation by adding a garden center to the 150 acres farm and nursery further he owned.
“My father loved the interaction of the retail part of the business and sharing the beauty of the property’s streams, lakes, bridges and woods with customers,” says Lamm, who has spent nearly 25 years working in all areas of the business. “It complements the landscape side of the business very nicely.”
Another unique aspect of the LAMMSCAPES! operation is its strong mission statement:
Our Mission — Sharing our God-given talents in the landscape profession, educating employees in serving customers with excellence, safety, profitability, and fun
One of the ways LAMMSCAPES! shares its talents is volunteering to be both a Project EverGreen GreenCare and SnowCare for Troops volunteer. Project EverGreen caught up with Hans Lamm to ask him about his company’s involvement with the programs and the impact it has had.
Q: How did you get involved with the GreenCare and SnowCare for Troops programs?
A: We registered five or six years back starting with SnowCare for Troops after seeing an advertisement in one of the industry magazines.
Q: Talk about your experience and what it means to you and your company?
A: Being part of the programs brings a rewarding feeling to it. I feel for members of the military that have to be separated from their families and the burdens it places on the families left at home. It is the least we can do for them. When our crews cut their grass or plow snow it leaves them feeling good. It is part of our culture to give back and being able to give military families peace of mind and take one thing off their plate and allow them to be at ease and deal with other day to day tasks is rewarding.
Q: Talk about the military family you have served?
A: Ironically, we ended up taking care of a friend who was being deployed with the Wisconsin Air National Guard. I didn’t know he signed up with Project Evergreen for services and he didn’t know we were part of the program until we were matched.
LAMMSCAPES! is also involved in Operation Finally Home, a national program providing mortgage-free homes to service members and their families who have become wounded, ill, or injured as a result of their service. In 2016 LAMMSCAPES! provided the landscape for two homes in the Jackson area.
Q: What would you say to a contractor considering volunteering for GreenCare or SnowCare for Troops?
A: I would say do it without hesitation. Decide what you can take on and handle but it is a rewarding experience that you won’t forget. It is something we can be proud of and feel good about. We all love our country and what a cool way to help give back.
Fast Lawns & More / Palmetto, Florida
All it took was a phone call to Fast Lawns & More from a Florida military family with a deployed service member looking for some help taking care of their yard.
“The family asked if we were part of the GreenCare for Troops program but we were not aware of it but that quickly changed,” says Kelly Guerrero, co-owner with her husband, Sergio, of Fast Lawns & More in Palmetto, Florida, a full-service company serving commercial and residential clients in the Sarasota-Manatee communities along the Sunshine State’s Gulf Coast.
After the call, Guerrero went to the Project EverGreen website to research the program and once she read what was involved and who it would be helping, she knew this was something the company definitely wanted to be involved with.
“After learning more about the history of the program and the valuable services it to military families and disabled vets, my husband and I knew we wanted to do our part,” adds Guerrero.
The family Fast Lawns & More is matched with has two young girls and the mother is constantly shuttling the kids to their various activities. This leaves little time on her schedule to cut the lawn or trim shrubs.
“She was really excited when we said we could help her out with the yard,’ says Guerrero. “It takes something off her to do list, provides her with peace of mind and frees her up to spend more time with her girls and keep their lives as normal as possible.”
Guerrero, who says the company is ready to take on more families, is familiar with the sacrifices military families make. Members of her extended family have a long history of military service and she knows what folks endure back on the home front.
Guerrero feels the services they provide not only help out in a practical way but also create greener and safer yards and landscapes the family can enjoy when playing outside or simply relaxing on the back patio. The maintained yards also contribute to a healthier, cooler Earth within the neighborhood and community.
“Cutting the grass, edging and trimming the shrubs are things we can easily do for a family or disabled veteran,” she adds. “Our crew leaders and crews know their efforts mean something when they are taking care of her yard.”
What would Guerrero say to other green industry contractors who are considering registering to be a GreenCare for Troops volunteer?
“Our military personnel and veterans have chosen to put their lives on the line and sacrifice for us and this is the least we can do as an industry,” says Guerrero. “Even if it is just one family it is well worth the time.”
Robyn Jackson / Wixom, Michigan
A Lesson In Service
When students are asked by their teacher on the first day of school, “What did you do on your summer break?” most probably list where they went on vacation, what travel sports league they played on or where they worked.
For Robyn Jackson’s three children – ages four to 11 – the answers would include some of the usual fare, but they would also talk about how they helped Lt. Steve and his family.
Lt. Commander Steve (last name withheld) is a member of the U.S. Navy currently on a year-long deployment in the Middle East, and Jackson and her three children have been taking care of his yard as part of Project EverGreen’s GreenCare for Troops initiative.
What inspired the Wixom, Michigan (a Detroit suburb) resident – who is a social worker, not a landscape contractor, by trade – to involve her children to get involved and make a difference?
“Each summer we try and do something that gives back to a community member in need,” says Jackson, who has previously volunteered her family to help with Meals on Wheels or delivering cookies. “A family friend recommended GreenCare for Troops, and when I found out about the program it was the perfect activity.”
Jackson and her family were matched with Steve who has three children of his own, ages three, six and nine, and they visit every Thursday to mow and edge.
“We talk about the sacrifice he is making for us and how they can help by doing something simple as cutting the grass,” says Jackson. “They are excited about doing something good for someone who is protecting them.”
A side benefit is that Jackson’s kids have struck up a friendship with Steve’s children, and after the work is done they have a chance to play and have fun on the freshly mowed grass.
Jackson says the visits also give Steve’s mother, who watches the children, a break and takes something off her to do list.
“I can’t imagine the responsibility she carries each day caring for her grandchildren and if our visit helps her by removing the burden of taking care of the yard and allowing the kids to make new friends, then we have done something more than mow a lawn,” adds Jackson, who has had several members of her own family serve in the military in years past.
When asked what she hopes her children take away from the experience, Jackson says she wants them to realize the world is a bigger place than their own family and friends.
“I hope they learn helping someone out is a normal thing to do and that they pass that feeling forward as they grow up,” adds Jackson.
Sun Valley Landscaping / Omaha, Nebraska
One of the basic fundamentals and values Omaha-based Sun Valley Landscaping is built on is that people come first and that the company strives to do things the right way.
Owners Paul Fraynd and Hugh Morton combined their life-long passion for creating and maintaining managed green spaces and formed Sun Valley in 2012 after each independently started and built successful companies.
A full-service outfit providing landscape maintenance, design/build and landscape material supply services, Sun Valley has been a GreenCare for Troops (they participate in SnowCare for Troops as well) supporter since the program’s inception and we asked Ashly Neneman, director of business development, about the company’s involvement and what it has meant to them.
Q: How many years have you been involved with the GreenCare for Troops?
A: 8 years
Q: How many military families have you been matched with and what has their reaction been?
A: We take care of eight families at a time, but we’ve probably served hundreds over the years of our involvement. The families are constantly changing because of deployment schedules and reassignments. Their reactions are amazing – so happy and grateful that we are helping them and the word spreads fast in our city. There is a local military base and we’ve been presented with everything from mission flags, to cookies, to heartfelt thank you cards with family photos.
Q: What impact has your participation had on your company and employees who have participated in the program?
A: Our field guys take a lot of pride in being able to use their skills to give back to the community. They relate to the families and try hard to make their lives easier. The program has also gained us much respect in our local military community. Families are always calling for other services outside of Greencare or SnowCare for Troops because they want to do business with a company that gives back to their community.
Q: What does your participation in GreenCare for Troops mean to you?
A: It means being aware of what is going on around us – through this program we have realized all the families here that are left without a spouse or loved one. Or maybe a disabled vet that can’t get around to do their yard work. They are sacrificing for our county and so for us, our sacrifice is small compared to what they are giving. We get back way more than we give.
Q: What advice would you give to another contractor considering registering to be a volunteer for GreenCare for Troops?
A: Start with one lawn and you will feel amazing by using your resources to help out someone else. It’s a way for our industry to use our skill, tools and expertise to step up and be a part of something bigger. As of right now we are the only contactor in Omaha that is service Project Evergreen so we are determined to be ambassadors of this program and get others involved.
Crider Landscaping / Hixon, Tennessee
The moto of Hixon, Tennessee-based Crider Landscaping is respect, excellence and responsibility. What else would you expect of John Crider, managing partner of the company and an Eagle Scout award recipient from the Boy Scouts of America.
Crider Landscaping is a full-service landscape and land care company serving the Chattanooga metro region and a Project EverGreen GreenCare for Troops volunteer.
For Crider, a University of Tennessee at Chattanooga graduate, the landscaping business is second nature. He has been working in the field since high school when he and his brother were mowing lawns in and around the neighborhood they grew up in.
During that time Crider learned the value of service and giving back through his participate in the Boy Scouts. That appreciation was part of the reason he registered his company to be a GreenCare for Troops volunteer and why he stands ready to give back to those who sacrifice so much.
Q: How did you get involved with GreenCare for Troops?
A: We have been involved with GreenCare for Troops for several years after reading an article in one of the industry magazines about the program. I have been involved with the Boy Scouts since I was a teenager, and the service and giving back to the community aspects are very similar. I had some friends who were deployed and people do not think about who is going to take care of the yard while they are away. Our service personnel our bravely serving our country and this was the least we could for them.
Q: Talk about your experience and what it means to you and your company?
A: We have worked with several families providing basic maintenance and yard upkeep over the years and they have always been very appreciative. They can’t believe someone is offering to do this at no charge and they asked, “Are you sure we can’t pay?” GreenCare for Troops is a good way to give back and recognize the sacrifices these men and women are making. You get a good feeling from being part of the program and our crews went above and beyond when they knew the reason why we were doing this.
Q: What would you say to a contractor considering volunteering for GreenCare for Troops?
A: I would say go for it and do not hesitate to get involved. GreenCare for Troops is a great opportunity to give back to the community and to those who are serving our country. We can’t do what we do every day if it wasn’t for them.
Weingartz Supply / Macomb, Michigan
On the Weingartz Supply company website its’ Core Purpose is listed as “creating a robust, long-term sustainable business enterprise that is respected by employees, customers and the community and to provide financial assistance to those who would otherwise go without, either materially or spiritually.”
Jamie Vroman, service manager for the Macomb, Michigan-based outdoor equipment dealer, has always been motivated to help others and recently he took a step to fulfill both his company’s and his own core purpose by becoming a Project EverGreen SnowCare for Troops volunteer.
Vroman was matched with disabled Marine Corps veteran Alan Opra who lost a leg as a result of being struck by a drunk driver. Opra, who is in a wheelchair, is very active in the community assisting other veterans. He donates his time to the Marine Corps annual Toys for Tots campaign, playing taps at military funerals and serving on the selection committee for service academy appointments for his local Congressman.
SnowCare for Troops spoke recently with Vroman about his experiences with the SnowCare for Troops program and what his participation means to him.
Q: How did you learn about SnowCare for Troops?
A: Weingartz is a BOSS Snowplow (the lead supporter of the SnowCare for Troops program) dealer and I saw information on the BOSS website about the program and thought I could help out. I knew a number of veterans and active duty military personnel, and had recently lost a friend who was a Vietnam veteran to cancer and I wanted to give back. I registered for the program in 2014 and was not matched up but tried again last fall and was paired with Alan Opra.
Q: Talk about your relationship with Alan?
A: Alan initially called me and we agreed to meet on a Sunday to talk about the program and get to know one another. Turns out we had a lot of common interests. He gave me his garage door access code so I could access his blower and I have stopped over several times this winter to clear the driveway and walks. He appreciates the program and what it does for military families and wounded/disabled veterans.
Q: What does your participation in SnowCare for Troops mean to you?
A: I have always been a helping person and my late friend’s service in the military influenced my decision to register for SnowCare for Troops. I did not serve but this was something I could do to give back. It means a lot to me and being able to do something positive in my corner of the world makes me feel good.
Q: What advice would you give to another contractor considering registering to be a SnowCare or GreenCare for Troops volunteer?
A: If you can do it, do it. It doesn’t require a huge time commitment and it means a lot to the military family or veteran on the receiving end. In Alan’s case he worried about being able to get out (Opra lives alone and has no children) to continue his work with other veterans. Because of SnowCare for Troops he doesn’t have to worry about that. It is all about paying it forward and allowing Alan and other veterans like him to carry on with their daily activities and continue to contribute to society.
Alpine Smith / South Lake Tahoe, California
With more than 970 commercial and residential contract clients, Alpine Smith is one of the busiest snow and ice removal operations in South Lake Tahoe, California. Owner Darin Smith arrived in the world-famous resort area 20 years ago after college and has built his company using a unique business model that deploys tractor-mounted snow blowers versus plows to remove some of the 125 inches of snow that falls annually at the lake level (snow levels in the mountains are much higher).
As Smith grew and diversified his business – he currently employees 40 people and runs 20 routes – to include an equipment distribution operation that sells tractors, skid steers and blowers to fellow contractors across the Western U.S., he also fostered his reputation as a community leader.
Part of that commitment includes being a Project EverGreen SnowCare for Troops volunteer. SnowCare for Troops, a program supported by BOSS Snowplows, provides complimentary snow and ice removal services for families of deployed military personnel and wounded/disabled veterans.
Project EverGreen recently spoke with Smith about his involvement with the program and what it means to him and his employees to be part of this nationwide effort.
Q: How did you learn about SnowCare for Troops?
A: We have been involved with SnowCare for Troops since the program started. We have a lot of admiration for the commitment military personnel and their families make to our country and SnowCare for Troops was a super way to give back when they are away serving our country and protecting our freedoms. We receive a lot of snow in the Lake Tahoe area and when a family’s main provider is away the snow can create a real hardship. It was an easy decision to get involved with SnowCare for Troops.
Q: How many military families/veterans have you been matched with and what is their reaction?
A: We are currently matched with several families and the feedback has been very positive. There is a lot of gratitude from the families for the services we provide. One of the families brought us Christmas cookies and ordered pizza for the crews to say thank you.
Q: What impact has your participation in the program had on your employees?
A: Our employees enjoy being part of SnowCare for Troops because it makes them feel we are doing something more than just plowing and clearing snow for someone. We have reached out to our competitors and encouraged them to participate in the program – we will promote SnowCare for Troops to anyone who will listen.
Q: What does your participation in SnowCare for Troops mean to you?
A: We could do a lot more for our veterans and military families. They are putting their lives on the line every day and helping them out is the least we can do. Imagine a mom trying to get the kids to school or to a doctor’s appointment and waking up to six or seven inches of snow on the driveway. It relieves a big burden from their plate and gives you a heartwarming feeling.
Q: What advice would you give to a company considering volunteering for SnowCare for Troops?
A: Our military personnel and veterans have sacrificed greatly to keep our freedoms free. Being involved with SnowCare for Troops raises the profile of the industry and your company but it is more than that. It shows your company is about more than just plowing snow. It demonstrates the growth of our industry to become better community leaders and better employers.