Planting the Seeds of Sustainable Recovery
If there could be a best supporting actor award in the story of my life, trees would have snagged a few of those awards.
As a competitive runner until my early thirties, my favorite runs usually involved nature, parks, and tree-lined streets. I found peace in my solitary runs under the tree canopy of the Wissahickon Park in Philadelphia, PA. I gloried in my own private viewing of the exquisite cherry blossoms of the Tidal Basin on early morning jaunts in Washington, D.C. On the morning of my own wedding, I laced up my running shoes and headed to Valley Forge National Park with my matron of honor and my brother.
Much like a family’s roots and history, trees are also part of the vibrant, living foundation of our communities – playing a critical role in community health, local ecology, and environmental sustainability. Natural disasters threaten both people and planet; and while immediate disaster relief efforts should and do begin with human health and wellbeing, sustainable recovery is dependent on restoring community trees.
As we near Arbor Day (April 25), the Arbor Day Foundation and FedEx are announcing the Community Tree Recovery Program, created out of this great need for recovering trees in the wake of natural disasters. Towns in New Jersey still reeling from the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy, neighborhoods in Colorado Springs recovering from the 2012 wildfires, the small city of Joplin, Missouri, rebuilding from a devastating 2011 tornado, and the fragile Lost Pines ecosystem in Bastrop, TX, just a short drive from Austin – these are the communities in which Arbor Day Foundation and FedEx have committed to helping and healing.
The Community Tree Recovery program is about restoring hope and normalcy to communities in the wake of natural disasters. It is also about supporting our friends and colleagues whose lives have been personally touched by disasters. As the FedEx advisor for citizenship programs that focus on the environment, I have had the privilege of meeting many FedEx team members around the country whose lives have been personally impacted by these natural disasters and the subsequent recovery efforts. Team members like Johnny Walton, IT Manager in Colorado Springs, who shared how the Waldo Canyon fire destroyed the majestic vistas where he spent many happy hours mountain biking. Team member George Becerra, a FedEx courier in Austin who lost his home due to the Bastrop, TX, wildfires, expressed his deep appreciation for his colleagues who supported his family immediately after the wildfires and helped replant trees on his street as part of the Arbor Day Foundation Lost Pines Recovery campaign.
Trees are an important anchor to our community and a symbol of hope. Restoring trees lost in disaster is a necessary investment in a community’s economic, social, physical, and environmental wellbeing for community members today and for generations to come. The benefits of trees may not be immediately discernable, which is why raising awareness of the need to replant after disasters is so critical. For more on tree benefits, check out some compelling facts here.
FedEx has made a commitment to provide sustainable access to communities in recovery as the national sponsor of the Community Tree program. Our local team members are also committed to supporting the program through volunteerism. Over the past six months, FedEx volunteers have helped distribute trees to affected homeowners, joined in tree planting events, and have helped prepare seedlings at tree nurseries for distribution. However, Arbor Day Foundation’s Community Tree Recovery program can also benefit from the support of local companies and citizens in communities impacted by disasters. Visit Community Tree Recovery to learn more.
I know I am not alone in my love of trees. Most people have a tree story to share. I’m very proud to have had a chance to help FedEx and the Arbor Day Foundation bring the Community Tree Recovery program to life.