OUR CITY FOREST has received the 2016 National Excellence in AmeriCorps Programming and Service Award from the Corporation of National and Community Service (CNCS). Just two organizations were selected nationwide to be honored. The other organization selected was the Barbara Bush Literacy Foundation based in Houston, Texas.
The awards, given in honor of Senator Thomas R. Harkin, a long-time, tireless advocate for national service, were presented Sept. 22nd at the AmeriCorps State and National Symposium in Washington, D.C. CNCS Executive Officer Wendy Spencer presented the award to Our City Forest representatives CEO Rhonda Berry and Urban Forestry Director Loren Klick.
In describing Our City Forest’s (OCF) accomplishments, Spencer pointed to OCF’s track record of serving San José residents with urban forestry programming, its state-of-the-art community tree nursery, and highlighted its latest program enhancement, Lawn Busters. Through this lawn conversion effort, Spencer explained, OCF has helped low-income households, people with disabilities, senior citizens and veterans make significant water conservation strides as a result of transforming water-thirsty lawns to drought-tolerant gardens.
“It is humbling for Our City Forest to receive this national award,” said OCF’s Rhonda Berry. “We applaud the selfless work of our staff, our service members and our thousands of volunteers who partner with us every day to grow a stronger, smarter, healthier San José.”
OCF’s Lawn Busters program expanded in 2015 as a result of a unique partnership with the City of San José, the Santa Clara Valley Water District, and AmeriCorps. The program has resulted in 2.4 million gallons of water saved in just the first year. OCF’s Community Nursery, located at 1000 Spring St. in S.J., was built in 2011 on a barren City parcel with the help of 1,000+ volunteers and funding from CalFire, AmeriCorps and the U.S. Forest Service. The nursery offers residents and agencies a wide selection of trees, shrubs, and plants suitable for planting in and around San José.