Public employees across the nation give back to their communities in extraordinary ways every single day. From donating to food banks to helping their neighbors and protecting their communities, public employees have always been there when their community needs them the most. 

Here are stories of public employees in service to their communities.

How gardens can create hope and wellbeing in uncertain times by Janet Eastman. For many, gardens provide a peaceful escape. In Oregon, former elementary school teacher and librarian Larry Cross created a therapeutic and memory garden for his husband while he experiences cognitive decline. The garden, designed to activate the senses, “maximizes nature’s positive effects,” commented Cross. Not only did Cross develop the garden for his husband, but he is opening his backyard up to the public on Saturday, September 11, so his community can experience it as well. Cross continued, “I encourage everyone to create or enhance their own island of tranquility.” 

‘Vines’ run returning to sprout success by Tom Joyce. The community of Dobson, North Carolina has not held its “Running the Vines” event since 2019 due to the pandemic, but it’s coming back this year. Running the Vines, a 5k and 10k race, raises money for the Reeves Community Center Foundation. The foundation assists underserved residents with scholarships and health and wellness opportunities. Surry County Recreation Director Daniel White commented, “It’s a good event drawing a lot of people from different areas.” 

Albemarle Co. elementary school raising funds to restock library shelves by Rachel Hirschheimer. At Agnor-Hurt Elementary School in Charlottesville, Virginia, a school librarian is trying to replenish the school’s stock of books after 200 books went missing since the start of the pandemic. Librarian Cary Shaffer turned to the school’s parent-teacher organization for help, who started a fundraiser with a goal of $1,700 to restock shelves. “More than 200 books never made it back to the library. They’re probably still at home someplace, or they could have been lost, but they never made it back. It’s really important that we have plenty of books for kids to choose from that really spark their interest in reading and learning,” said Shaffer. 

Be sure to check back next week for more stories of public employees giving back to their communities!