Giving Back: Spending the day on the Woony River.
On September 29, a group of volunteers from Signal Works gathered with members of the Woonasquatucket River Watershed Council (WRWC) at the Riverside Park Shelter on Providence’s Aleppo Street to stain and paint the park’s picnic tables and fence and help beautify the landscape. This volunteer day was part of Signal Works’ mission to create a culture of support, make connections and improve infrastructure in the Providence community.
Signal Works’ relationship with WRWC began in 2017, when WRWC engaged Signal Works to design shelters for Riverside Park. “There were shelters in place, but the fabric on them was deteriorating,” says Lisa Aurecchia, Director of Projects at WRWC. “We needed to replace them, but also needed a structure design that was simple enough to be built by volunteers using donated building supplies.” Signal Works reused the existing steel canopy to design a structure that not only provided partial shade, but facilitated plant canopy growth and was durable enough to be climbed on.
After the project was completed, Signal Works maintained its relationship with the WRWC. In fact, Signal Works Finance Director, Lauren Ratti, is the board president and Signal Works Founder, Eric Army, joined her on the board. “It’s important that we partner with local organizations that share our mission,” explains Army. “Every project we undertake is place-based, meaning it fits seamlessly into its environment, has a clear purpose and centers the people who will benefit from it. Similarly, the WRWC turns underserved areas into beautiful spaces that serve their community, and we are proud to contribute to and support mission-aligned organizations.”
Peter Dear helped organize projects for the Signal Works volunteers on that September day. Dear is a river ranger with WRWC whose role is to be a steward for the river, the bike path and the connecting community. He said about the volunteer day, “I always see the Signal Works building and wondered who was in there, so it was nice to meet them and say hi.”
During the volunteer day, different groups were assigned to different projects. Dear took a group of volunteers into the river. “We put on waders and went into the water to get trash out of there. I liked that project because it let us see the river from a different perspective.”
Joanna Grocott, Designer and Marketing Manager at Signal Works, concurs. “I am always amazed by how the environment changes when you are near a river, and walking through it was something I haven’t done before.” Grocott was on Dear’s team and says she learned a lot about the river during her experience. “Peter was a great guide. He explained how the river passes through the city and pointed out wildlife and plants of note. And it was incredibly satisfying to pick up trash in the river and have a direct, if small, effect on the environment.”
If you want to schedule your own volunteer day or learn how to get involved, contact the WRWC at https://wrwc.org.
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