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Groundwork Lawrence gala to honor young volunteers

by Zoe Matthews, Eagle Tribune

For the better part of the past two decades, Groundwork Lawrence has worked to improve residents' quality of life through environmental, food access, and youth education programs.

On Thursday, they will celebrate the work they have completed — and reflect on the work still to be done — with their annual fundraiser. The theme of this year's "Glow Gala" is "Transforming Tomorrow," which Executive Director Heather McMann said grew from wanting to honor the young people involved in the nonprofit.

"It's a key part, looking forward to the work we do with youth," she said. "The goal is for these youth to be the environmental leaders of tomorrow."

In 2018, Groundwork Lawrence played a pivotal part in various transformations across the city, such as the Buckley Garage public art piece, new playgrounds, and more than 550 new trees planted as part of their Green Streets initiative. 

And while all those efforts highlighted positive changes in Lawrence, perhaps nothing has been more transformative to the city this year than the gas disaster in September, which continues to leave lasting effects on thousands of residents.

Groundwork Lawrence staff members volunteered at the Lawrence Senior Center in the first days after the incident, coordinating donations and volunteers, then worked with community partners to prioritize the needs of citizens. They re-routed produce grown at one of their urban farms, normally for sale at the farmers markets, and donated it to soup kitchens and food pantries.  

"Together, we took fear and anguish and transformed them into courage, compassion, and hope. The call to action has been heard, and the work continues," McMann and Sarah Young, board president, wrote in the Glow Gala program book.


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