Military families face an array of challenges and hardships when a loved one is deployed. While some of these issues may spring to mind immediately, such as childcare, loneliness and concern for the deployed service member’s safety, there are many everyday needs that often go overlooked. This is where endeavors such as Project EverGreen’s GreenCare for Troops come into play.
GreenCare for Troops provides complimentary lawn and landscape services for deployed service members’ families. We got a chance to speak with a professional landscaper who volunteers for GreenCare as well as a family who received his services. Read on to learn more about his experience with the program and what GreenCare for Troops means to those it serves.
Volunteering with GreenCare for Troops
Andrew Van Oostenbrugge owns and operates Cutting Edge Landscape Management, LLC. He started the company in 2005 when he first started mowing yards in high school.
“We are now a full landscape maintenance company providing services to homeowners and commercial clients,” he says.
As of 2019, Cutting Edge Landscape Management has 4 full-time employees.
Van Oostenbrugge says they use a variety of equipment depending on the job, including Ford Super Duty pickups for transportation, Toro lawn mowers and Echo handheld equipment to complete weekly lawn care. Boss snowplows and Buyers Products Snowdogg plows are also used on the trucks for fulfilling snow removal needs during the winter.
His company has been volunteering with Project EverGreen for the past five to six years.
Van Oostenbrugge says he initially learned about the program from a flyer at a local parts and equipment dealer in the Michigan area.
“Having employees that were part of various [military] branches over the years sparked the interest in giving back to those families of deployed [service members] – and at the start of Project EverGreen – giving back to those who were no longer capable of doing it themselves after returning from the frontlines of conflicts post-9/11,” he says.
In addition to GreenCare for Troops, Project EverGreen also offers basic snow removal during the winter months through its sister program, SnowCare for Troops.
“Over the years we have provided weekly lawn mowing during the growing season and snowplowing for families during the winter months,” says Van Oostenbrugge.
Relieving Some of the Burden
When describing what it’s like to serve families in this capacity, Van Oostenbrugge says, “It truly has been a blessing knowing that we can help provide relief to families whose significant other has been deployed.”
He goes on to explain that families often become single-parent homes for the duration of deployments and face extensive chores that used to be shared between two or more people.
“That is where we shine and can save a family a couple of hours a week from having to mow their own yard or clear the snow from their driveway in the winter,” Van Oostenbrugge adds. “Our equipment lets us finish jobs in a fraction of the time most homeowners spend.”
A Family’s Gratitude
Van Oostenbrugge says the responses from families he has served through GreenCare for Troops have been overwhelmingly positive.
“The response has been wonderful," he explains. “Every family we have assisted has been a delight to [serve] and [they] have shown their gratitude in a variety of ways.”
The most common reaction, according to Van Oostenbrugge, is relief from families because they no longer have to worry about the lawn or snow removal.
The Parmelees are one such family that received Cutting Edge Landscape Management’s services through GreenCare for Troops. Mrs. Parmelee says, “I first heard about Project EverGreen through a friend that had posted it on her Instagram account.”
At the time, her family was heading into its third deployment and she was 20+ weeks pregnant, moving cross-country alone with a two-year-old child.
“Project EverGreen was the greatest blessing,” she says.
Mrs. Parmelee explains how GreenCare for Troops removed some of the stress about moving to a new city. She moved into a new house just four weeks before she was due to give birth and owned no lawn equipment.
“Working with Andrew and his team was so wonderful,” she adds. “I didn't have to ever worry about my lawn. They did a wonderful job each week. I could not be more grateful for their support and help this deployment, especially with all the leaves this fall. It was a huge weight lifted off my shoulders. I would definitely recommend Andrew's team and Project EverGreen.”
How to Get Involved
GreenCare for Troops is a needs-based program for active duty deployed service members of the rank of E-6 or below from all military branches. The service is available for the service member’s residence. If you are a family of a deployed service member and need lawn, landscaping or snow removal assistance – learn more about eligibility details on the Project EverGreen GreenCare for Troops website.
The program marked its 13th year in 2019 and has seen more than 11,000 military families register to receive an estimated $8 million in donated lawn care and landscape services from more than 6,000 green industry professionals.
Project EverGreen also offers a SnowCare for Troops program that provides complimentary snow and ice removal services for families of deployed military personnel. The national awareness week for SnowCare for Troops will be recognized January 19-25, 2020.
For more information on how to register to become a GreenCare for Troops volunteer, call 888.611.2955 or visit Project EverGreen.