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Gearing up for spring

Neighbors, SEED students beautify Northwest Birdsdale Street with fresh soil and bulbs


by: CONTRIBUTED PHOTO: MELANIE MCKENNETT - Nine SEED students and a host, Melanie McKennett, helped beautify Northwest Birdsdale Street this fall. Yesenia Solis is the student on the far right.

Come spring, a strip of dirt on Northwest Birdsdale will burst into a colorful patch of flowers, thanks to a group of neighbors and Mt. Hood Community College SEED students.

This fall, the group dug up a mixture of bulbs, grass, weeds and flowers and replaced it with fresh bulbs and soil along Northwest Birdsdale from First Street to Powell and to the westbound bus stop on Powell.

For several years, residents have maintained the area, but the strip was due for some TLC. Melanie McKennett, one of the hosts for SEED, arranged for students to participate in the project.

Neighbors donated the use of their yard debris bins, shovels, rakes and other tools, along with cash and food for a barbecue at the end. Pam Alison provided 400 tulip bulbs and worked with her nephews for 40 hours on the project, while 16 SEED students from MHCC donated 51 hours of work.

One of them was Yesenia Solis, 23, a second-year SEED student from El Salvador. She called the three days “a fun community service project.”

by: CONTRIBUTED PHOTO: MELANIE MCKENNETT - Before, weeds and dying flowers lined the soil on this strip in Northwest Gresham.

Solis is working on a project that will help implement reusable bags in her hometown and dreams of eventually working with an organization focused on turtle conservation.

SEED (Scholarships for Education and Economic Development) brings international scholars to MHCC for rigorous study in natural resources and environmental technology.

The program includes young leaders from the Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Mexico and Nicaragua.

After the program, students return to their home countries to work as leaders in the environmental preservation and economic development of their communities.

It’s sponsored by Georgetown University, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), Central American and Caribbean countries and community-based organizations.

Last year, Solis watched a fellow SEED student and El Salvador native, Glenda Maribel Alfaro, place second in the final round of the Clinton Global Initiative University’s Commitments Challenge.

“It was an inspiration to keep working and helping my community,” Solis said. “It’s great to know somebody who achieved that goal. You say, ‘Yes, I can do it; try; keep going.’ She’s the type of person the world needs. That’s the way we should act — the world and environment would be more safe.”

by: CONTRIBUTED PHOTO: MELANIE MCKENNETT - Neighbors and students spent three days pulling out weedy soil and replanting bulbs in Northwest Gresham. By spring, the strip will blossom with colorful flowers.

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