Waves of Change HBCU, Inc (WOC) hosted a neighborhood garden cleanup this weekend to beautify and upkeep the Creative Aging Networks international garden in Greensboro. Members of the nonprofit organization and volunteers from N.C. A&T helped spread the love of the environment and left the Greensboro community thankful and appreciative.
WOC is a nonprofit organization that seeks to engage the black community in the environmental sustainability movement through education, advocacy and service, as described by their Instagram page. Through regular initiatives and service opportunities, the organization makes a mark in all communities they volunteer in.
Volunteers this Sunday pulled weeds, spread mulch, moved broken trees and bushes and overall refurbished and cleaned the surrounding areas of the Creative Aging Networks international garden.
“This location had a vast amount of trash to clean up, which increased participation. Our last location was cleaner than expected,” public relations chair and sophomore multimedia journalism student Asha Taitt said.
Lia Miller, the co-founder and executive director of Creative Aging Network, was grateful for the surplus in volunteers that WOC was able to provide and voiced that their goals aligned perfectly with the organization.
“When I learned about [WOC’s] focus on environmental sustainability, I was like this is a perfect fit for us because that’s what we’re working toward too. Through the international garden, people can grow materials for natural dyes and different kinds of art-making, paper-making,” Miller said.
The Creative Aging Network strives to improve life for special populations through creativity and art to decrease loneliness and other struggles they may encounter throughout life.
“Our organization provides creative opportunities for older adults to improve their quality of life. We do this in a variety of ways, through creative programming here on our campus, but we also go out to the assisted living, skilled care, senior centers… and we have teaching artists who are trained to work with these populations,” Miller said.
Claudia Duverglas, a sophomore supply-chain management student and the president of WOC, believes that giving back and service is a task that is vital and necessary in the Black community.
“To the organization, [service] aligns with Waves of Change’s initiative to lead with service and education in our community, the Black community, regarding environmentalism,” Duverglas said. “Whether it be picking up trash or planting trees, volunteers are taught why what they’re doing is important. They are serving their communities and understanding how their service helps the environment.”
The organization and its connection to Duverglas truly hits home with her sister, Rachel Clark, founding the organization at Howard University in 2019. Clark realized after a community service opportunity in California that there were not enough spaces for sustainability in the Black community.
The gap between Black people and the market regarding environmental sustainability inspired Clark to create WOC, incorporating the education of sustainability, fun and the key aspects of Black culture.
Although founded at Howard University, the organization has branched out to N.C. A&T and Prairie View A&M University in Prairie View, Texas.
“It is important to educate our community on environmental justice, as most of the Black community falls victim to it [redlining, diseases, etc.],” Duverglas said. “The source of these problems are environmental issues. Waves of Change bridges this gap, and the work we do matters.”
Taitt agrees that eliminating economic and environmental ignorance in the Black community is key to its progression.
“This is important to me because it goes against the stereotype of what Black people tend to care about. We care about the Earth. We care about cleaning up our communities to make it the best for families to grow up in,” Taitt said.
To stay up to date on all future WOC events, you can follow their Instagram page @wavesofchangehbcu.