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In November of 2016, Mid Central Community Action, Inc. (MCCA) was nominated for a McLean County Chamber of Commerce Green Excellence award. When we heard of the nomination, we were all very excited and honored. We have been working very hard the past year to help our organization become a green resource in the community. When the community starts to notice the impact MCCA is making with my assistance, I feel that I helped make great decisions.

MCCA has long believed that to be a true organization of action in our community, we must have a positive effect on all aspects of the community—including the environment. In 2011, when NeighborWorks (NW) America announced the opportunity to become a designated NeighborWorks Green Organization to their member organizations, MCCA began to take a deeper look into our environmental impact: both how to limit damage and how to increase positive change.

NW included a list of “Green Achievements” criteria that agencies would have to accomplish to receive the Green Organization designation, and MCCA was already meeting many of the criteria. MCCA achieved the NW Green Organization designation in 2013.
Leading up to our nomination in November 2016, I helped create education material to teach the community the importance sustainability and efficiency. During my first year as an AmeriCorps VISTA, I facilitated a Staff Green Week to inform MCCA staff of their environmental impact, as well as a Green Education Series that brought together MCCA and other local agencies to provide community members the opportunity to take part in weatherization and green cleaning workshops, a Recycling 101 workshop, building rain barrels, a clothes swap, and the building of a raised garden bed.

These community engagement activities resulted in the further education of 27 individuals and an electronic recycle event where 133 items ranging from keyboards to printers and cable boxes were collected, preserving 2,370+ lbs. of carbon emissions from entering the atmosphere, which is equivalent to:

  • 402 gallons of gasoline conserved;
  • 3,435 plastic bottles recycled;
  • 91 trees saved; or
  • 15,801 aluminum cans recycled.

MCCA continues to be a green resource to the community by providing replicable programs for other organizations and business to utilize. We also continue to expand our green advocacy efforts by providing individuals and families increased access to energy efficiency resources and educational services.

In December 2016, MCCA was recognized as a finalist for the McLean County Chamber of Commerce Green Excellence award, and in January 2017, the recipients were announced at a Business Excellence Awards Gala. Although MCCA did not win, our nomination motivated me to work even harder to achieve the award next year.

— AnaPatricia Marquez, AmeriCorps VISTA at MCCA