Classic Volunteers: Riverview Park Cleanup

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Park Clean Up 1: Before
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Before and After images, courtesy of Francine

King County takes pride in its park system, trail system, and natural areas. The amount of land set aside for public use is impressive and appreciated by the residents. In an area where small yards for homes and apartments are normal, having the luxury of easy-to-reach public lands is invaluable.

As members of the local community, we want to help. The last two years, we’ve chosen to volunteer and contribute to the health of local parks through a park clean up event as part of a Green Kent Partnership. Park clean ups are a great way to help maintain these natural areas, keeping them in pristine condition for fun and future use. Clean ups aren’t necessarily about trash, but can also focus on trimming overenthusiastic growth, clearing harmful or invasive plant species from an area, laying down mulch to help fertilize the trees and prevent new undergrowth. It’s a few hours of your time that help keep local parks in top shape for everyone in the community.

Last year we helped clean up Glenn Nelson Park. This year, we decided to go to Riverview Park in Kent, due to its proximity to our new location.

Several of us chose to walk to Riverview Park for the event. Image: Heather

Several of us chose to walk to Riverview Park for the event.

Riverview park is  modest park consisting of a small area of land next to the Green River. Part of the Kent Valley Loop Trail system, this park sits close to the southernmost points of the Eagle and Frog Loops, and is also close to an intersection between the Green River Trail and the Interurban Trail.

 

Wheelbarrows. Image: Amanda

Once at the park, we were given marching orders and shown available supplies–gloves, bags, tarps, rakes, shovels, wheelbarrows, pitchforks, and clipping tools. Our cleanup was focused on the removal of two invasive plants from a small section of the park.

Hemlock. Image: Pixabay. https://pixabay.com/en/cow-parsley-hemlock-chervil-white-3454559/

The site manager, Francine, ran through important safety information before we began; mostly how we should properly hold and carry the equipment so as to neither cause harm to ourselves nor the equipment. We also learned that there were flags set up to designate both spots for photos chronicling the clean up as well as places to not go beyond due to the presence of hemlock. This was a plant many of us knew by name only, so Francine kindly showed us what the plant looked like so we could better avoid it. I consider this detail important because so few of us were aware of the appearance of a plant that could be dangerous and was just a yards off of a well-trafficked trail.

Bindweed removal. Image: Amanda

We started the session removing both living and dead instances of a creeping vine, field bindweed. This plant twines and creeps across the ground, down, around, over, and through anything it can manage to create an interwoven network of vines and roots that smothers and strangles local vegetation. We quickly became familiar with the white roots with twinges of green and pink. The root system was intricate and very thoroughly integrated with the soil and vegetation of the area. The plant is capable of carpeting the ground. In areas where the bindweed had really taken over, we were advised to roll the weed as you wood a rug, and cut swaths of it out for final removal. The bindweed had to be bagged because of its aggressive nature; it try to establish a new root system almost anywhere it can.

Blackberry vine extraction. Image: Heather

We were reacquainted with a familiar enemy during the cleanup. As with our cleanup last year at Glenn Nelson, we spent a good portion of the cleanup removing invasive blackberry vines. Not to be confused with the native blackberry plant, the trailing blackberry, the Himalayan blackberry was introduced in the 1800s and has proceeded to carpet any area it can as it spreads along the coast.  The idea of abundant fruit-bearing bushes seems grand, but these plants are very invasive and will completely take over areas to create what are, essentially, walls of prickly plant along the roadsides of the Pacific Northwest.  They are also on the list of noxious plants, considered a non-regulated noxious weed in King County, highly invasive and recommended to be removed from areas whenever possible.

Redistributing mulch. Image: Francine

After a quick break, we began part two of the cleanup, adding mulch to the area we had cleared. First, a layer of cardboard was placed on the ground. Then we relocated several piles of mulch onto the cardboard where several people spread it for even coverage. We ended up breaking the work into three main tasks: shoveling mulch into wheelbarrows, wheeling the loads over to its destination, and spreading the mulch. Some people stuck to one task, while others would alternate between tasks as was required by the flow of work or their preference.

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Action shots. Images: Amanda, Francine and Heather

In the end, we left the park a bit cleaner, clearer, and far healthier looking than when we arrived. It was not only a great way to get out of the office for a bit, but a good exercise in teamwork, forestry, and community as well. We were especially thankful that the weather let up enough for us to be able to participate. It was one of the first days we’d had in over a week were the smoke/haze let up enough to allow for safe outdoor activity.

Group Photo. Image: Francine

A big thank you to everyone who participated and those who wanted to but were unable to attend. We’re looking forward to our next community volunteering event!

Classic Volunteers: Riverview Park Cleanup

Habitat for Humanity

This week, we had an amazing opportunity to help out a local Habitat for Humanity build project just to the south of us. We had 23 employees come in two shifts to work on various projects in and around the homes currently under construction. The work made for a long day, but was a welcome break from cubicle life for many, or at the very least served as a good change in pace.

Group photo: Morning Shift

When we arrived we were given hard hats, gloves, and site safety information. Alex, our main contact for this project  gave us a run down regarding the non-profit organization, Habitat for Humanity, and the community we would be working on. Habitat for Humanity is a global organization dedicated to providing affordable housing to lower income families. The organization focuses on shelter because providing a safe and affordable place for people to develop and grow within is key to encouraging sustainable lifestyle improvement for individuals and communities.

Image: Habitat for Humanity

The specific community we contributed to is called Megan’s Meadow. Megan’s Meadow is located in the city of Pacific (south of Auburn) next to the Sounder train tracks. The property is vacant land within an area of residential homes including a new development under construction across the street.  It will provide 9 low-income families with both an affordable home and an affordable mortgage in a new housing development in Pacific.

Image: Habitat for Humanity

This is being designed as a Veteran’s focused community with all units to be accessible, single-story homes. Environmental stewardship and long-term affordability will be ensured by constructing these single family homes to achieve or surpass NW Energy Star sustainable building standard. The property is part of a land grant that will ensure that this community remains affordable for 99 years.

Rollin, Monette, and Brad get the power washer going

It was a great experience. We had volunteers from most of our departments, making it a great opportunity to interact with people we don’t run into on a daily basis. We worked on moving lumber, helping align foundation support structures, cleaning, applying grout, and lots of digging.

Digging out a trench to realign the foundation

I participated as part of the digging team. One of our tasks was to uncover the area around the foundation, going around some piping, so that the wall foundation could be realigned. The ground was tough in spots and we ended up alternating between breaking it up and shoveling the dirt. It was really wonderful to get a chance to not only get out of the office, but to know that the time we spent working on this project was directly affecting the future home owners. It’s rewarding to see progress made on projects.

Dorik Downing, our Art Director, and expert ground breaker, commented that it was “Great to be able to get our hands dirty and be part of helping veterans get into affordable homes”. Noting that the onsite staff made the experience. “I enjoyed working with the people from H4H—they have great attitudes and are very knowledgeable.”

Rollin and Amanda start to remove the frame around the cement floor

Amanda, our Marketing Specialist, was lead on coordinating the opportunity with Habitat. She loves helping make these kinds of projects come to life and the spirit behind volunteering for the community. “I am humbled to work with such an amazing team who so willingly came together, rallied and helped with the foundations our community veterans will get to enjoy for years to come. It doesn’t get any better than getting your hands dirty with full hearts.”

Charisse, Kathryn, and Stacy sweep debris away from the floor

Our Executive Assistant, Charisse (now a Master at Grouting), is always supportive of our volunteering efforts because, “I love that our company supports its employees passion for volunteer work.” “…it was such an amazing experience to help at the site where veteran’s will have the opportunity to own a home. It was AWESOME to work alongside our CA team and make a difference in our community TOGETHER!” She did note, however that despite being somewhat sore after her double shift, Charisse would “do it all again in a heartbeat.”

Stacy, our Accounting Supervisor was part of the second shift of workers and enjoyed the camaraderie that comes with working on this kind of project in tandem. “What a great opportunity to work together and do something that will positively impact families in our community.  It was fun to work with people from other teams and get to know each other a little bit better.”

Always happy to help

Joining her on the second shift was Bridget Shew, a Technical Designer on the team, was enthusiastic about the experience. “I have learned that when I have had hard times, serving others makes me happy. I loved working with my Classic friends giving service to an organization that clearly is dedicated to provide homes for others in need.”  Her team members noted her attention to detail and willingness to pull out the level to confirm adjustments during the process.

Helping with grout

Liza, one of our Product Development Merchandisers, attended the afternoon session and got a chance to help lay out grout. Despite some lingering soreness, Liza had a good experience, “It was epic…I’m game for the next one.”

More frame removal

Working the an organization that is dedicated to providing sustainable shelter resonated with both our desire to inspire memorable experiences and to help people preserve the items that help make those experiences possible. We wanted to leave a bit of Classic with the homes and their future inhabitants. In addition to the time spent by our employees helping on site, the company donated (per new home) a set of chaise lounges adorned with our Montlake FadeSafe Cushions, an umbrella with an umbrella stand, and accompanying covers for all pieces.

Group Shot: Afternoon Shift

We will be back next Spring to help finalize the remaining 5 homes for the total of 9 homes that make up Megan’s Meadow. We’d like to extend a big thank you to all of our volunteers, our photographer, Angela, and the awesome leads we had onsite helping us out, Chris and Lucy.

More images are available on Facebook!

 

Habitat for Humanity

Classic Community

Classic Accessories is based out of Kent, Washington. Which is a hop, skip and a jump South of Seattle. We have been based here for many years and through them we have connected with some of the great resources that make our community great.
Last week we had Bloodworks Northwest out here again for a donation day in their “Bloodmobile” and we were able to give enough to save 63 lives! It takes less than 20 minutes for the whole process: check in, donate and be rewarded with delicious treats. (easy right?)

Who is your donation helping?  Check out our last donation day here.
Local patients need blood transfusions for many reasons like cancer, chronic illnesses, blood disorders and surgeries. One thing they don’t have to worry about when they are facing a health challenge is blood being available because of donors like you.

Why Give?
The blood supply for our region depends on thousands of local individuals every week who make the decision to give blood and help keep folks safe when they need the gift of life-saving blood.
Did you know…
• A total of 30 million blood components are transfused each year in the U.S.
• Only 5% of the population donates
• Each day, nearly 900 people must donate with BloodworksNW to meet the local need
• The blood used in an emergency is already on the shelves before the event occurs
• Every 2 minutes, someone in western WA is receiving a transfusion

This Spring we also walked up the street to Northwest Harvest to spend a day volunteering in their fulfillment center. Northwest Harvest’s mission is leading the fight for hungry people statewide to have access to nutritious food while respecting their dignity and promoting good health.  We had 28 staff members contribute and help pack 5,550 pounds of rice which helps feed 4,269 families in our community. That’s HUGE!

Hunger Fast Facts for Washington:
• Washington is the 23rd hungriest state in the nation.
• 1 in 5 kids in Washington state lives in a household that struggles to put food on the table.
• 1 in 7 Washingtonians relies on SNAP (food stamps), the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, which is severely threatened by budget cuts. Half of all people on SNAP are kids.
• The majority of working-age Washingtonians who live in poverty are actively working or looking for work.
• Since the start of the recession in 2008, Washington has cut more than $12 billion in discretionary spending from our state’s operating budget, all in the areas of public safety, higher education and basic needs services.
• 1 in 5 Washingtonians relies on their local food bank.

Summer – isn’t always the most favorite season for kids.
Northwest Harvest also runs a Kids’ Summer Food Club which reaches kids who normally have access to meals during the school year during the Summer months by serving kid-friendly food to areas where 1) we have partner programs, 2) no near summer meal sites, and 3) where over 50% of the children apply for free and reduced meals during the school year.

Classic Accessories has also taken a local elementary school under our wing and each year we do an annual school supply drive for our neighborhood Redhawks. Anything from glue sticks and binders down to our favorite boxes of Crayola, we are rounding up supplies to fill those backpacks up come September. Donations don’t stop at the classroom, some of them go straight to kids in need of warm coats and shoes to the nurses who need first-aid items. All of them go to the well being of our community’s kids. What could be better?

It’s no secret that we are all about the outdoors – it’s kind of our thing. How to protect your favorite investments all year round by loving our own outdoors from season to season. So it wasn’t a surprise when we decided that this Summer we would partake in a local park clean up, more to come on that in August.

Showing off our products and the in-house teams here at Classic Accessories is easy. It’s the culture here and a strong sense of community that really gives us a base on which to grow ideas which ultimately we get to share with you, in the form of products and services. Some may say “it all starts at home” and home is a term we use here as well. Home to our team is our community around us here in Kent, Washington that we are so proud to be a part of.

Classic Community