Nike's Cushioning Innovation team is not only committed to creating high-performance athletic gear but also to making a difference in their community. Just a day before Earth Day, the team collaborated with the nonprofit organization H.O.P.E. (Honoring our Precious Elders) to help two elderly homeowners maintain their large garden. The volunteers worked hard to build a raised bed, weed existing beds, and level pathways for the elders. With around 20 volunteers on the project, the results were impressive and the impact was heartwarming.
The two elders, long-time friends of Hen Truong, H.O.P.E.'s founder and executive director, were former educators and nature enthusiasts. They had built an impressively sustainable and beautiful backyard sanctuary, filled with birds and bountiful harvests.
"We moved here 51 years ago, and had a lot of fun gardening," one of the elders said. "We turned this place into kind of a personal wildlife sanctuary, excepting our garden. Wildlife and gardening don't go hand-in-hand. The new raised bed will make it possible for us to keep gardening as we both grow older."
Over the course of four hours the team of volunteers, along with Hands On Greater Portland (United Way of the Columbia-Willamette's volunteer initiative) transformed the space. Weed-ridden asparagus patches were cleared out with careful, caring hands. A massive raised bed was built and filled with a lasagna of branches, compost and soil. And walkways were improved with wheelbarrow after wheelbarrow of soil.
Nike's Cushioning Innovation team was eager to get back together after years of COVID lockdown, and happy to be working on something out in the sunshine, away from their computer screens and drafting tables.
"The sense of giving back while getting to know each other better, working in a different environment, was invaluable," said Kamae Stone, the team's Project Coordinator. "These events are great, and we already have some different teams at Nike reaching out to ask how we put this together and who we worked with."
Stone credited Hands On Greater Portland and H.O.P.E. for facilitating the event and offering volunteer support along the way. She said the benefits of getting the team's brains working in different ways was a bonus, and it was apparent to anyone how quickly they put their expertise to work! Within minutes of working, the team organically sorted itself into areas of expertise, with several of the engineers diving into the best ways to maximize efforts efficiently. Quick minds and steady hands were soon at work constructing the raised bed, with jokes abounding about which parts they could 3D print and model. The team's new Vice President especially appreciated the chance to get to know her team in a more personable, out-of-office way.
Whether it's a corporate outing, a gathering of friends, or a family get-together, volunteering with Hands On Greater Portland is an excellent way to gain new skills, new outlooks and impact the community. Check out their Project Calendar and schedule your next gathering! Learn more about H.O.P.E. here and be sure to look for their volunteer events in Hands On Greater Portland's Project Calendar as well.