Even the Littlest Lends a Hand

A little boy named Leo made a difference in his Evergreen community when he picked up discarded materials left at an entry fountain feature. Parkside community Lifestyle Director Amy Mallinder heard about it and rewarded him with puzzles and a decorated cookie. Older kids at Parkside regularly help with events and activities in exchange for Bright Futures community service hours. Mallinder uses forms developed by Evergreen specifically to record and track Bright Futures hours that go toward requirements set by this Florida college scholarship program.

Filed Under: Spotlight

Amy Mallinder, Lifestyle Director for Evergreen Lifestyles Management at Dr. Phillips Parkside (Orlando) and Lake Preserve (near Orlando Int’l Airport), finds that the kids in her communities often help out in spontaneous and selfless ways. Whenever she knows about it, she tries to acknowledge and reward them.

Never Too Young to Volunteer

Leo is a three-year-old boy who lives in Parkside with his family. On most days, he goes on a bike ride with his dad around the streets near his home.

Recently Leo and his dad, out on their daily ride, came upon some trash, and Leo’s dad sent Amy a message to let her know that trash had accumulated near the fountain area. Amy texted back that she appreciated the heads-up and would have someone take care of it as soon as possible.

A little while later she received a short video from Leo’s dad. The video showed Leo, industriously picking up the trash and materials from around the fountain, getting the place all cleaned up. He was excited to be helping, and even stopped to smell the flowers. (He then quickly picked a flower for mom!)

Amy had a few little gifts left over from an event and also picked up a giant cookie, decorated with the words, “Good job, Leo!” She took the goodies to Leo’s house and dropped them off outside the front door, then called Leo’s parents. Leo’s mom opened the door and asked an excited Leo what he had done to deserve this special delivery. He was very proud of himself and remembered picking up the garbage!

Amy likes that her residents are involved in the care of their community, and wants to reward kids for being good residents and caring for their community.

High Schoolers Help for Bright Futures Hours

In addition to kids like Leo, there are also high schoolers in the community who want to help with events and activities. Amy is able to give them community service hours in exchange for their help. These hours go toward Bright Futures requirements. (Bright Futures is a Florida college scholarship program, started in 1997 and funded by the Florida Lottery.)

One high school girl regularly helps at the community monthly movie nights, setting up the amenity venue and handing out popcorn and drinks. Other high schoolers volunteer at events like the Spring Carnival. Amy said that other Evergreen Lifestyles Management directors are doing the same thing—offering high schoolers the opportunity to earn Bright Futures community service hours through volunteering at events and activities.

Evergreen has developed forms specifically for this purpose. Parents must sign a waiver and then kids get a service form on which they fill in the number of hours worked. Lifestyle Directors, like Amy, or HOA Management representatives sign the forms which eventually get submitted to Bright Futures.

Shared Care for Looks and Function

Amy has a heart for all kids, whatever their ages. Even little ones get a chance to help. There’s a young girl that comes to the movie nights who isn’t old enough to do a lot or officially volunteer, but Amy lets her pick out the movie for the night.

The fact that kids in her communities like to volunteer for service hours and to help just for the sake of helping is heartwarming. It’s important to Amy to acknowledge their help and reward them when possible.

She also likes it that her residents care about how things look and function, and they want their communities to always look beautiful. Amy appreciates that residents stop by the office to let her or the Community Manager, Jamie, know if there’s an issue.

She feels that although it’s her job to deliver great events and programs to the community, with the Community Manager, they both help keep their communities running smoothly and looking great.