Deployment Hardships Drove This Volunteer to Take Action
Seeing the Hardships A Deployment Causes Motivated Mike Riske to Volunteer
“The GreenCare for Troops program is really nice to work with. When I first signed up, I did not know what to expect, but they have been great. They do this to help serve military families. They make it a seamless process and get us directly in touch with the people in my area who need assistance.”
Grand Rapids, Michigan
Prior to launching MJR Landscape, a Grand Rapids, Michigan-based green care operation, Owner Mike Riske and his family lived for a time on the East Coast.
A close friend of the family would tell stories of the hardship a deployment to Afghanistan shortly after 9/11 would have on those left behind.
“Initially, there was a real vacuum that was left for that family facing a sudden deployment,” says Riske. Eventually, neighbors began to pitch in and help one another to keep the households running, and they talked about how much that helped them get through it both practically and psychologically. “Their experience really resonated with me … it was something I never forgot.”
Those stories of difficultly and community service would come full circle for Riske years later as a Project EverGreen GreenCare for Troops volunteer.
A Commitment to Help
Launched in 2011, MJR Landscape is a year-round operation, with a focus on spring and fall cleanups, mowing and lawn maintenance, and commercial snow removal. It was while working on one of the residential mowing routes that Riske encountered a World War II veteran named Walt and remembered those past conversations.
“We were working on his neighbor’s yard, and we saw him really struggling with mowing his tiny lawn,” recalls Riske. “We said, ‘why don’t you just let us do it for you,’ and it took a bit of prodding, but he finally went along with it. We worked on it for a few years until he went into assisted living.”
The experience made Riske want to start his own program to help military personnel with landscape services, but after doing some research he discovered GreenCare for Troops and signed up.
“The GreenCare for Troops program is really nice to work with,” says Riske. “When I first signed up, I did not know what to expect, but they have been great. They do this to help military families navigate some of the challenges that come with a deployment. They make it a seamless process and get us directly in touch with the people in my area who need assistance.”
MJR Landscape has been able to help three families experiencing the deployment of a service member with lawn maintenance services, and the gratitude from each family has been huge, says Riske.
“We let them know if there is anything they need, just call us,” says Riske. “They appreciate having that available, that they have a resource to call if something goes wrong or they need help.”
Given the real benefits to military families for a small amount of effort, Riske would encourage every lawn care operator or landscape and snow removal contractor to consider signing up with GreenCare for Troops.
“Mowing one lawn is a small thing for me, but for a military family it’s one less thing to worry about and lets them know that the community cares and is willing to help,” he adds.
Become A Volunteer Today
Are you ready to step up for a military family? Register today at https://projectevergreen.org/about-the-program-volunteers/
The Title Sponsor of the SnowCare for Troops program in BOSS Snowplow. The GreenCare for Troops program Title Sponsor is Nufarm. Platinum Partners include Toro and SiteOne Landscape Supply. The Gold Partner is Arborjet/Ecologel.
GreenCare for Troops is endorsed by the National Association of Landscape Professionals.