ReClaim Ambassadors Graduate! Posted on October 8, 2015 by Grounded Strategies Share this post We love celebrating the great work of the ReClaim Ambassadors—recently, we were lucky enough to celebrate with two graduations in one week! ReClaim McKeesport Graduation The proclamations, given to each of the Ambassadors at the graduation ceremony, explained the program well; “…ReClaim McKeesport has brought together nine civic-minded individuals for the benefit of this city as the initiative is aimed to beautify neighborhoods and establish a sense of community among those who volunteer…” The Heritage Center was a perfect backdrop – allowing us to celebrate the new life being brought into the area through the vacant lot projects while at the same time being reminded of the bustling legacy of McKeesport’s history. Alongside the proclamations, the Ambassadors received yearbooks, certificates of completion and photographs of their completed projects. For photos from the event, visit the ReClaim McKeesport Project Page. Highlights of the night included speeches by: GTECH Executive Director Andrew Butcher, who praised the Ambassadors for working to create real change in their community. Mayor Mike Cherepko, who expressed his gratitude for the Ambassadors and the positivity they and their projects brought to the city. Ambassador Shari Leidig-Holland, who inspired the crowd with her meaningful words about neighbors working together (stay tuned for her full speech). Ian Brown, who gave a sneak preview of GTECH’s newest programming – just recently unveiled for McKeesport – Green Playces. As well as the coolest cake anyone has ever seen. (and yes, that is a toilet on a vacant lot made of icing) ReClaim Northside Graduation GTECH’s ReClaim Northside Ambassadors have been working hard this year to turn vacant lots in their neighborhoods into beautiful gardens and community spaces. The Ambassadors now have 350 hours of vacant land training collectively, have networked with over 200 people, have worked alongside 340 volunteers, have planted thousands of native plants and have reclaimed 8 vacant lots with a 9th on the way. To celebrate all that’s been done, GTECH held a graduation ceremony to highlight and honor the great work of the Ambassadors. The event was held at the Neu Kirche Contemporary Art Center in the Northside neighborhood of Deutschtown. Photos of the Ambassador’s work were showcased in Neu Kirche’s beautiful gallery space, accompanied by the lively tunes of the Boulevard of the Blues band, led by Ambassador Jay Donaldson. Guests were treated to Northside-themed goodies from Chateau Cafe and Cakery. Ambassador Angela Williams put the program in a nutshell in a note written in the ReClaim Northside yearbook… Thanks so much that GTECH provides a mechanism for transformation: Physical – in vacant lot beautification Mental – service to community change Emotional – good feelings from positive outcomes! While the Ambassadors have completed the ReClaim Northside program, they will continue to develop and sustain their vacant lot projects. Click this link if you’d like to see where the Ambassador’s projects are now.