Karma for Cara Foundation awards microgrants to youths 18 years of age and younger who spearhead exceptional service projects in their communities. Meet microgrant recipient Lilian, 15, from Miami. Lilian used her award to help her school begin renovating their rooftop greenhouse which had been abandoned for 3 years. Lilian would like to start growing fruits and vegetables to share within their school’s community and the community at large.
- How many volunteers participated in your service project (other than you)? 11 students and 3 adults volunteered to improve and enhance our school’s rooftop greenhouse garden.
- How many hours did you specifically spend on your project? I spent 52 days this summer dedicated to the rooftop greenhouse garden project. Each day I spent approximately 1.5 to 2 hours for a total of 104 hours working on various tasks. Other participants dedicated anywhere between 2-4 days out of the week for 1.5 to 2 hours. We volunteered on rotation including weekends.
- How many individuals were affected by your project? Our school which has a student population of about 630 students, faculty and staff of 55, and the neighboring communities–some underserved–that our school serves.
- What did you learn from this experience? Rebuilding a greenhouse was tough work. It required plenty of hands-on work and the cooperation of everyone present. We were all motivated by the ultimate goal of improving our school and being of service to others. Together we tackled every task, faced plenty of challenges often weather-related, and high-fived along the way. I cherish my classmates, made new friends, and love my teachers even more for trusting us with this initiative.
- How will your project continue having an impact in the future? Our rooftop greenhouse will serve to teach sustainability education for future science and environmental elective classes. We started a Gardening Club during the 2017-2018 school year and have a beautiful inviting space to share with future and current students and their families. We plan on growing a diverse set of fruits and vegetables and plan on developing a school-wide low cost farmers market that we hope can expand to neighboring communities. We also plan on partnering with the home economics teacher and offer healthy cooking classes that students, adults and community member can participate in.
- Overall, summarize how your project was completed and how you think it went. My teacher, myself and a few of my classmates made some initial assessments on what was required to get our rooftop greenhouse fully functioning during the 2016-2017 school year. Once we were granted the award, we immediately bought materials needed to fix and strengthen the outer structure of the greenhouse in preparation for hurricane season and the heavy afternoon rains we were experiencing. We had to request the assistance of 2 parents who had a construction and electrical background when we were faced with some challenges. Lucky for us, the school administration was and still is very supportive of our project. Once the exterior was completed, we purchased items we needed to support seedlings, grown vegetation, fruits, and vegetables, as well as workstations. We worked in stages during the summer and managed to complete our project during Teachers Planning Week in mid-August. Teachers were invited to see our space and get inspired for future projects and/or lessons. We even had a Solar Eclipse Back to School Mini Party inviting faculty, staff, and students to check out the solar eclipse on our rooftop. It was amazing!
- How was the Karma for Cara microgrant helpful in the completion of your project? We can’t thank Karma for Cara enough for considering our project. Thank you for being of great support in allowing us to beautify our school which will enhance our community in many ways. Your grant has allowed us to present to our school a sustainability initiative that we hope will inspire future students to take care of each other, tread lightly on our planet, and respect living beings. Thank you for empowering us to be the change we wish to see in this world.