SouthCoast Serves is a University of Massachusetts Dartmouth led collaborative bringing together 45 community partners to boost service and volunteerism in the region. SouthCoast Serves created a pilot workforce development program by collaborating with five community organizations.
The idea—connect volunteerism and education to holistically engage individuals. Working with veterans from the local veterans transition house, SouthCoast Serves partnered with the City of New Bedford to clean a local park.
New Bedford is a city on the rise, but like many municipalities it lacks resources. The once dirty park is on the city's waterfront—the most prominent tourist location. Before SouthCoast Serves got involved nearly no one used the park.
The veterans spent a full forty hour work week cleaning up the park. By the end it was newly mulched, 400 flowers were planted, and the City installed new park benches. The program culminated with an awards ceremony, where the veterans were recognized by the mayor’s office.
After the park was cleaned up, the veterans were eligible for a free night school class at the local vocational high school. Many of the veterans were able to find jobs, with the help of the local Chamber of Commerce, and still continue to upkeep the park.