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Providence, RI

AARP Community Challenge Grant Year: 2019

Project Category: Community Gardens

Description: Amos House, which serves unhoused and unemployed people and those living in poverty, developed a volunteer-managed garden to provide fresh ingredients for the organization's soup kitchen. Amos House installed four raised garden beds and two containers for growing herbs. The organization relied on labor from participants in its carpentry program and planted seeds donated by a local farm. Following construction of the 900-square-foot garden, Amos House recruited 20 volunteers age 50 and older to tend the garden. In the summer of 2019, the garden yielded produce valued at 6,500, which they used to prepare 15,000 meals. Residents of Amos House's shelter programs participate in gardening and harvesting, which project organizers say represented an important social activity during the COVID-19 pandemic.

South Tucson, AZ

AARP Community Challenge Grant Year: 2020

Project Category: Community Gardens

Description: The Primavera Foundation improved the La Capilla neighborhood's community garden by building raised bed planters, adding ADA-compliant benches and making garden walking paths more accessible. In addition, the Foundation purchased ergonomic and adaptive tools, since the majority of residents who use the garden are older adults, often accompanied by their grandchildren. The garden improvements coincided with the City of South Tucson's Greenway Redevelopment Project, which brought public art to the neighborhood. To celebrate local residents' heritage, project organizers also installed a walking path to a mural located next to the garden. That mural -- created by student artists -- pays homage to the Yaqui and Mexican American cultures. Since this project's completion, the Foundation has made similar upgrades to another community garden.

Chicago, IL

AARP Community Challenge Grant Year: 2021

Project Category: Community Gardens

Description: North Lawndale, whose population is 70 African American and 50 aged over 55 years, is one of 22 Chicago community areas with neither a grocery store nor supermarket. To combat food insecurity there, Jesus Word Center converted a vacant lot into a community garden. Project organizers purchased gardening tools, compost and vegetable seeds for local volunteers, most of whom are older adults. The improvements allowed gardeners to grow vegetables, fruit and herbs and the Jesus Word Center planned health and wellness workshops onsite. In the future, organizers hope to introduce a farmers market in the area as well, with the goal of improving health outcomes in the majority-Black community.

Nearby AARP Community Challenge Projects

Fairfax County, VA

AARP Community Challenge Grant Year: 2020

Project Category: Access to health care services

Description: When the COVID-19 pandemic made in-person medical appointments risky, CFH wanted to help local older adults make the most of online sessions with their health providers. To do this, CFH distributed telehealth kits to residents of Herndon Harbor House, a senior housing complex, allowing them to measure their vital signs at home. Each kit contained a digital thermometer and a wrist device that measures blood pressure. To ensure recipients could operate the devices, CFH included written instructions in several languages.

Arlington County, VA

AARP Community Challenge Grant Year: 2021

Project Category: Roadway/sidewalks/crosswalk improvement

Description: The Arlington Commission on Aging set out to make local intersections safer for pedestrians. After consulting data on pedestrian-involved crashes, the Commission worked with local organizations -- including nonprofits, churches, civic associations and the local fire department -- to identify ten crossings with high vehicle speeds and insufficient pedestrian infrastructure. Then they provided hand-held orange flags at crosswalks, which pedestrians can wave as they cross the street to make themselves more visible to passing drivers. Organizers mounted bins at eye-level on each side of the street to store the flags. In addition to improving safety, the effort also helped educate the community about the importance of traffic calming interventions.

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