Jesus Cervantes changed his future by becoming a member of Groundwork Richmond.

He said he met major influencers in his life starting with Richmond Youth Works, an organization that tutored young kids in the Iron Triangle District. There he was inspired by their leader Pedro Lespier and met Matt Holmes who he ran into later on in life in 2014.

“Matt talked to me about the ideas behind Groundwork Richmond,” Jesus said. ”He told me how it could help me as a student and give back to my community. Giving back to my community was something Pedro had instilled in me early on. He taught me there is more to life when you give back.”

Groundwork Richmond, originating from the National Park Service, offers two levels of participation for young people. Program Director Lorenzo Plazola explained that he Green Team is for youth 13-19 years and introduces them to nature and engages them in service-learning opportunities. The Green Team participates in environmental stewardship projects, relevant pre-employment training, community art projects, and STEAM education, all while getting exposed to the world of careers in the outdoors. The Green Corps training program is for those over 19 years and they work closely with the City of Richmond’s Parks and Landscaping Division, on the Richmond Greenway and other natural spaces in the city, and at the same time learn about careers in the outdoors.

Jesus said when he joined Groundwork Richmond his first task was to learn about the environment. “I learned the benefits of trees and landscaping – how it economically benefits the community.” His favorite job was working on the Carlson Meadow’s project part of the Watershed Project. In this project they took an empty lot near the BART station and turned it into a beautiful park. Jesus said they cleared it of debris and then mulched the ground, added trees, a couple of benches, a water fountain and plants. He learned about different species of plants and trees and said it felt friendlier with the landscaping and was glad he could leave something behind. He added that he really appreciated the support form Matt Holmes and Sarah Calderon at Groundwork Richmond.

“Jesus Cervantes, has successfully matriculated from being a high school participant,” says Executive Director Matt Holmes, “now becoming a staff member supervising our Green Corps training program. Through his service here with Groundwork Richmond Jesus is making a difference in his hometown and having fun enjoying the outdoors at the same time.”

Jesus is now going to college and working part time as a Groundwork RIchmond Green Corps Supervisor.

More information about community involvement in Groundwork Richmond here.

They have a fleet of kayaks that help them have fun out in nature and recently took visitors to the Pacific Sail & Power Boat SHow for rides in the Marina Bay Yacht Harbor.