Landscaper donates service to those who serve

Landscaper donates service to those who serve

In January 2009, Sgt. 1st Class Sean Clifton of Dublin, Ohio, packed his bags, put on his uniform, said goodbye to his wife and two young sons, and boarded a flight to Afghanistan. Unlike his first deployment to Iraq in 2006, Clifton, a 16-year Army veteran and member of the National Guard's Columbus-based 19th Special Forces Group, says this time he didn't have to rely on his then-pregnant wife or neighbors to maintain his home's landscape while he was away.

Bryan Taynor, owner of highly rated Bryan Taynor Landscape Design in Columbus, Ohio, volunteered to provide weekly lawn maintenance for the family throughout Clifton's nearly yearlong deployment.

"It was one less thing we had to worry about," Clifton says.

It's the second family that Taynor has helped since signing up with Project Evergreen's Green Care For Troops in 2007. In its fourth year, GCFT registers military families who have deployed loved ones and matches them with local companies, or individuals, willing to provide free lawn and landscape services throughout the deployment.

Program director Joy Westenberg says Project Evergreen, an organization dedicated to enhancing community green spaces, started the initiative with a simple question in 2006: "Of all the burdens military families have to bear, who's taking care of their lawns?" What began as 250 volunteer providers offering what assistance they could to 1,800 families has blossomed into 3,000 volunteers and 10,000 families nationwide, including 121 volunteers in Ohio.

"Lawn care is always the least thing on your mind," Westenberg says of families coping with a loved one's deployment.

Taynor says donating what he estimates is thousands of dollars in free services gave him the opportunity to serve the military families who bear a dual burden.

"For what they're sacrificing, not only the individual who's deployed, but the families who deal with them being gone, they're really going above and beyond," Taynor says. "Anything we can do to help them is the least we can do."

Taynor's generosity also helped carry the Clifton family through their soldier's return home. On Memorial Day weekend in May 2009, just a few months prior to his scheduled release, Clifton suffered serious injuries in the line of duty. Throughout his recovery in late 2009, including multiple trips for surgery and rehabilitation at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C., Taynor continued to donate his services to aid the family.

Clifton says he's resumed caring for his lawn and landscape, but he plans on having Taynor install new trees and shrubs, and a patio fireplace.

"He provided all those services for free, the least I could do is have him come out and pay him," Clifton says. "They're out there supporting the local community and veterans. That goes way above and beyond your average landscape company."

If you've hired a service company that gives back to the community, please submit a report on your experience at Angie's List. To learn more about Green Care for Troops or to register as a volunteer, visit

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