The Citywide Volunteer Office was created in 2011 as a central source for volunteer opportunities throughout the City of Phoenix. Today, there are more than 30,000 active volunteers working with city departments. Below are two examples of recent volunteer projects made possible through a Cities of Service grant and our amazing volunteers!
Mini-Murals Celebrate Community
"It started with the idea of bringing some color and excitement to the otherwise bland lobby of the Washington Activity Center.
Pam Fitzgerald of the Washington Park Neighborhood Association explains that her association holds its regular meetings at the center, 2240 W. Citrus Way, and she couldn’t help but wonder if there was a way to make the lobby visually a little more appealing.
'It was just so boring,' she said. Then her association received some information about the city of Phoenix’s Love My Block mini-grant program, and an idea began to take shape.
Fitzgerald approached Karen Bell-Zinn, Visual Art Department chair and AP Art teacher at Washington High School, about possibly doing a mural for the lobby. Fitzgerald’s first though was to work with the high school, since she and her siblings were graduates from there, her son was once assistant principal of the school, and her daughter did her student teaching there.
Bell-Zinn said a mural would be too complicated, requiring the students to travel back and forth between school and the center. So they brainstormed and came up with the idea of mini-murals that would serve as “roving billboards”—art that could travel around to other locations to be on display.
The $1,000 grant was applied for by the neighborhood association and received in February, but students weren’t really able to start on the project until later in the spring. In fact, most of the work was completed in less than three weeks, as the students had their own final art projects to finish before the end of the school year. Many came in before and after school to work on the mobile murals." -By Teri Carnicelli
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here to learn more about this amazing project that was made possible through a Love Your Block mini-grant.
HandsOn Greater Phoenix Supports Our Neighbors
Wednesday, April 26th – Thanks to the City's partnership with HandsOn Greater Phoenix, volunteers painted a house for an elderly couple in their early 90s with code violations. 20 volunteers were present at the house near 32nd St. The company who volunteered to do the painting also gave the low-income couple a check for $5,000.
This is a great partnership with HandsOn Greater Phoenix. The City of Phoenix Neighborhood Services Department connects residents in need of support and HandsOn secures funding and volunteers to bring the homes into compliance.
Triangle Neighborhood Tree Planting
Community volunteer tree planting events offer residents the opportunity to positively influence the development of the neighborhoods environmental and social resilience. Trees are a valuable resource in Phoenix as they provide shade during extreme temperatures, improve air quality, and absorb water during flood events. Tree planting projects offer significant positive impacts on communities, and by engaging resident volunteers to lead tree planting impact volunteer events, social resilience is realized through the strengthening of community partnerships.
In November 2016, the Resilience AmeriCorps team, funded through Cities of Service, supported a local tree planting event in the Triangle Neighborhood of downtown Phoenix, an identified heat island. By working with the neighborhood association, a lead volunteer resident, and with the City of Phoenix, the community tree planting was a success that aligned with the City's goal to increase the tree canopy. On the day of the event, more than 30 local volunteers were able to plant a total of 33 trees.
The lead resident volunteer led the project and coordinated with property owners who received a free tree if they agreed to water the tree and take care of it. This grassroots effort engaged community members, residents and community organizations to make a positive impact on one downtown Phoenix neighborhood.
About Resilience AmeriCorps
Cities of Service Resilience AmeriCorps VISTAs empower low-income communities and increase capacity to address extreme weather and other emergency challenges. The city of Phoenix has two Resilience AmeriCorps VISTAs who work diligently with the City and neighborhoods to achieve these goals and pave the way for a more sustainable future. The tree planting event in the Triangle Neighborhood is a prime example of empowering and incorporating local citizens to address challenges that their community faces.
Love Your Block
In June of 2015, Cities of Service awarded seven cities with $30,000 each and two AmeriCorps VISTA members to plan and implement Love Your Block in low-income neighborhoods.
Love Your Block is a high-impact service strategy in which the Love Your Block AmeriCorps VISTAs engage Phoenix community members in revitalizing their neighborhoods one block at a time.
Over three years, the City of Phoenix will use the $30,000 Cities of Service grant to implement Love Your Block. Each year, five neighborhood groups within the Love Your Block initiative boundary are awarded $1,000 to make a change they wish to see in their neighborhood. The program encourages community groups to identify priority projects and develop volunteer-fueled solutions. With the awarded funds, neighborhood groups purchase supplies to make their projects possible.
Since June 2015, eight communities have received $1,000 from Love Your Block to develop their neighborhood projects. Each group was able to acquire additional funding from local businesses and non-profits to increase the scope of their projects. Medlock Place Neighborhood collected the most additional funds, around $7,000, to expand their alley clean-up and install additional street lights. The awarded neighborhood groups also forged relationships with local stakeholders to build capacity for future positive change in their community. The Love Your Block projects that have been awarded thus far include:
Grant Park Neighborhood: Butterfly station, Fruit Tree Planting, & Garden Irrigation System Repairs
Medlock Place: Alley Clean-Up, Chain-link Fence Ribbon Murals, Painting Walls, Wayfinding Signs, Street Lighting, & Graffiti Removal
Melrose District: Flower Planter Boxes
Pasadena Neighborhood: Little Free Libraries & Neighborhood Clean-Up
Sky Harbor Neighborhood: Community Mural & School Clean-Up
Sunbeam Neighborhood: Canal Clean-Up, Community Mural, Graffiti Removal, Tree Planting, Chain-link Fence Ribbon Murals, & Baseball Field Resurfacing
Triangle Neighborhood: Community Mural, Neighborhood Clean-Up, & Graffiti Removal
Woodlea-Melrose Neighborhood: Irrigation Box Murals & Graffiti Removal
Let's Grow Phoenix Gardens
In October 2012, the City of Phoenix received a $100,000 grant from Cities of Service to implement Let's Grow Phoenix Gardens to address the lack of access to healthy foods for residents in public housing communities. And these gardens continue to thrive. Combining this commitment with the city's passion for volunteering and civic engagement, the city of Phoenix strives to create a more vibrant community for all.
The City of Phoenix, in partnership with HandsOn Greater Phoenix and the Valley Permaculture Alliance, recruited volunteers to help activate dormant property, courtyards and land in three public housing facilities into vibrant garden spaces which provide a healthy source of food for many low-income residents.
Combined with educational courses in cooking and nutrition curriculum provided by Phoenix Children's Hospital, this initiative contributes to Mayor Greg Stanton’s priority to create access to healthier foods.
The Let's Grow Phoenix Gardens sites include: Sidney P. Osborn Apartment Community, Washington Manor Senior Housing and Maryvale Parkway Terrace Senior Housing
About Let's Grow Phoenix Gardens
According to a U.S. Department of Agriculture study, nearly 14 percent of Arizonans live in a “food desert,” a low-income area with low access to a grocery store, exceeding the national average of 4.8 percent. Combining geographic and monetary restrictions of this nature are dangerous as they limit residents’ ability to access healthy foods, resulting in negative health consequences such as childhood obesity, diabetes, and other food-related diseases caused by poor diets.