When it comes to operating a city, designating funds and manpower toward beautification efforts isn’t always a top priority. To make sure flowerbeds throughout the city of Urbana are maintained, the city has partnered with the Person Centered Services (PCS) Champaign Career and Life Enrichment Center on a beautification project that’s been benefiting both sides for the past two years.
Director of Administration Kerry Brugger said the collaboration began back in the fall of 2014 when John Groby of Lawnview Industries (now PCS Champaign), 1250 E. U.S. Route 36, contacted him looking for service opportunities the city might have available that individuals from Lawnview Industries could assist with.
Brugger said he pitched an idea to Groby regarding flowerbeds at city-owned parking lots and other various public areas that were in need of a little attention, and a partnership was soon formed.
“(The flowerbeds) are places throughout the city that always seem to fall through the cracks … so we buy the flowers and they maintain them,” Brugger said. “The partnership is a mutual benefit as it serves what we need and what they need. We are trying to help provide a service to the community while at the same time taking care of areas of the community that need a little maintenance.”
PCS Champaign Director Kari Stefan said the local career and life enrichment center benefits from the collaboration by being able to offer the project as a volunteer opportunity through the PCS Service Delivery Model.
Those individuals who do volunteer their time to help do so at their own free will as the program doesn’t have a volunteer requirement, Stefan said.
“We do encourage volunteering so that they get can have community integration and make connections that will help them in life,” she added. “The end result is teaching them life skills that could potentially help them gain community employment.”
Anywhere from 12 to 15 individuals from PCS Champaign currently volunteer their time to help maintain 13 areas throughout the city. These areas include flowerbeds not only around city-owned parking lots in the downtown area, but also in public greenspaces like the area between the U.S. Route 36/state Route 29 split. In the past, the group has also helped with landscaping maintenance at Grimes Field and the former armory.
“These are all areas we’ve identified that could use periodic maintenance,” Brugger said.
As for the services PCS Champaign provides on a typical outing, Stefan said, “We pull weeds, trim up bushes, and water the plants we have planted. We usually pick one or two areas around town on a particular morning when weather permits.”
Signs reading, “Care and Maintenance by Person Centered Services,” have recently been placed in several of the areas serviced by PCS Champaign.
Joshua Keeran may be reached at 937-652-1331 (ext. 1774) or on Twitter @UDCKeeran.