Sprigs n Sprouts Program Helps Kids Grow
From mentoring to tattoo removal, SAY’s Esperanza Resource Center offers volunteer opportunities, work experience, field trips, and engaging activities for kids who may be at-risk of joining a gang. One program run by our Esperanza team is the Sunflower Community Garden, located on the corner of A and 7th streets in downtown Santa Rosa.
The Sunflower Garden is a partnership with the City of Santa Rosa and Catholic Charities. This summer, SAY youth have grown over 1,000 pounds of vegetables, and they love making their daily deliveries to Catholic Charities Family Shelter, which is located across the street from the garden.
Summertime is the busiest period for our garden, not just because of the bountiful veggie harvest; it’s also time for one of our favorite mini programs: Sprigs ‘n’ Sprouts. Sprigs n Sprouts is an activities program inviting kids from the nearby family shelter to participate in team-building games and get some green education along the way. The kids learn to grown their own veggies, and participate in arts and crafts activities and plant identification games, all led by SAY youth staff and volunteers.
Sprigs ‘n’ Sprouts gives SAY youth the chance to help plan, and lead the activities. We visited the garden and spoke with teens who were stoked to be getting leadership experience. One volunteer had actually been mandated to volunteer a set number of hours at SAY, and, after spending some time with the Sprigs ‘n’ Sprouts kids, he says he plans to keep volunteering even when his hours are complete.
A common message from the teens working in the garden is that it gives them a chance to give back to their community. Andrew has been volunteering for six months, “after having a hard start to life, I wanted to help do something positive and give back. I can do that here.”
The neighbors of the Sunflower Community Garden definitely support his message. Folks walking downtown often stop to give words of encouragement to the kids and volunteers in the garden. They have helped transform an overgrown lot into a thriving community space, dedicated to creating a healthier, happier community of all ages.