Our Greater Good Paints Parkview Green (and Black and White!)

Beautiful weather welcomed volunteers of all ages to Parkview Elementary Saturday morning and kept them their through the day. One of Valpo's newest nonprofits, Our Greater Good held a "Paint the Hallways" project at Parkview from 10 am to 4 pm. Parkview Principal Anne Wodetzki and OGG Executive Director Garner Tullis were on hand to steer the volunteers in the right direction!

Tullis founded OGG in late 2013 and launched its website (ourgreatergood.com) in January of this year. OGG's interesting structure focuses on neighborhoods surrounding of our local schools. This allows volunteers and donors to better support others in our community. According to the site, OGG is "Forming Powerful Partnerships That Create Lasting Change."

"Mrs. Wodetzki called me and said, 'I have two projects that we can't afford to do,' but we can try to get parents and teachers in here with any other neighbors in Parkview's neighborhood. We posted it as a project and here we are! We've done the most projects at Parkview because our children went here and my wife and I live in this neighborhood and also Bethel Valparaiso has adopted Parkview's neighborhood, so they were a sponsor on this project for paint and our other sponsors, The Kotys Group and Go Yodel did all of the other supplies that we needed for this project – a big sun tarp for the garden (which isn't ready to be installed yet), as well as the painting supplies that we needed," said Tullis.

The Parkview faculty and parents who volunteered were thrilled to have the opportunity to work on their school and to further their commitment and impact on the children they serve. OGG's generous fundraising and campaigning platform is helping continue a vision for the school – stylistically and within the community.

"I just love this project because it brings together community, parents, students, and teachers all for the good of our students and our community. I think that's awesome when we can have retired people come and take interest in our schools and it really shows how much people care," explained Wodetzki.

"My son really wanted to come help Ms. Jones, his favorite second grade teacher, in the garden and we really love to help at Parkview. It teaches the kids how to help others, how to participate in the school, and it's something important I always want to teach my kids – how to volunteer ," said Misti Howell, mother of two.

In addition to "Paint the Hallways," work continued on another OGG Parkview project, the American Heart Association Teaching Garden. Volunteers painted the boxes and generally spruced up the garden, which is used as an outreach tool in addition to helping students to learn about where the food on the table comes from! Jane Jones second grade teacher at Parkview, is in charge of the ongoing project, now in its second year.

"We want to get a screening that still lets the sun through. That way, I think the garden will be more utilized by classrooms. If you bring students out here in this heat, they tune you out because it's so hot," said Jones.

OGG is making a big impact in little ways throughout our community. If what they're doing speaks to you, head to their website to learn more and even sign up. Whether you want to volunteer for every project they do – which might be nearly impossible – or simply want to make a donation to this great cause, every effort makes you a part of the team.

"We're just here to create a volunteer base, but it's defined by people taking emotional ownership of, 'Hey, that's my neighborhood! I'll be a part of the team,'" reminded Tullis.

Speaking of teams, OGG has teamed up with United Way's Day of Sharing and is able to work with anyone in Valparaiso or Center Township. So if you're looking for volunteers for just about anything – be it an elderly neighbor's gutters needing cleaning or your school's gym needing a new coat of paint, OGG has a way to help you out.

Check out the website at www.OurGreaterGood.com  – which even has a map to show you which neighborhood you live/work in if you're unsure – and see what they're doing or have done for your neighborhood!