Two young men say for them, mowing grass is more than a summer job.
“I want to make Youngstown great again,” said Malcolm Lambert, a sophomore at Chaney High School.
“No one would want to be out here if it looked trashy or dirty, so we’re making it look better and I feel like it’s bringing more people out,” said Kemondre Muhammad, a senior at East.
They’re part of a group of six teenagers that wants to improve Youngstown, one lawn at a time.
Kemondre and Malcolm say this is an opportunity to earn good money and make a lasting impact on their community.
They were at it on Wednesday — since 7 a.m.
“If we wake up early, we can get like, ten in for a day,” Malcolm said.
The boys are employed through a partnership between the Mahoning County Land Bank and two other Youngstown-based community organizations.
“These are people who are living in city neighborhoods, who are performing work in city neighborhoods for the betterment of city neighborhoods. So I don’t know how it gets much better than that,” said Deborah Flora, executive director of the land bank.
They tend to 160 parcels of land throughout the city.
“Every time I see a high property, like, we going to cut it. We gonna cut this, we gonna make it look like it’s in front of your house, how you want your grass to look,” Malcolm said.
Keland Logan heads the program and mentors the guys. His lessons extend far beyond wielding a weed whacker.
“Accountability, stewardship, responsibility and just having that go-getter attitude,” Keland said.
Add green infrastructure to that list, too. Keland and the boys are creating a model for stormwater runoff management for the city. It’s hard work, but they say the promise of a cleaner, greener Youngstown is fuel enough.
Malcolm and Kemondre are being rewarded for their work to the tune of $13 an hour, dished out weekly — proof that being a positive influence pays off.
“I want to just show them that there’s a better way than just being in the streets,” Kemondre said. “That’s what usually everybody does out here, is just selling and doing stuff like that. I feel like it’s a better thing if you out here making money in a positive way.”
Kemondre and Malcom plan to save their earnings and put it toward college.
The jobs are filled for this summer, but the program is already looking to hire for next summer. Contact the Mahoning County Land Bank at 330-259-1040 if you’re interested.
The land bank says it wants to keep its money close to the community. There’s no word yet on what it will do with these 160 land plots, but it wants these young people to lead the way in their repurposing.
The green infrastructure project is something that they work on all year long and could always use extra help. To get involved, visit The Colony Youngstown on Facebook or email Keland at firstname.lastname@example.org.