June 21, 2017
Nature’s Touch, a landscaping and lawn care business, provides work experience and helps Alvis clients to grow their skills and be able to branch out into new opportunities.
Being able to obtain a living wage job can seem nearly impossible to a person like Joshua, who has a felony record and additional barriers, including major gaps in his employment history. Many Alvis clients have significant barriers to employment, such as not having a high school diploma or GED, not having any references, not having a legitimate work history at all, and more. In response, Alvis provides workforce development services designed to address the specific needs of justice-involved individuals.
Some clients need more than a job readiness class, though, and the one thing Alvis hadn’t been able to provide was that “first job” for clients who were struggling to build an employment record. Alvis believes that there is always room for growth, and quite literally, that’s what happened. Alvis launched Nature’s Touch, a social enterprise that provides:
- Landscaping: mulching, edging, trenching, weeding, pruning and trimming
- Lawn Care: scheduled mowing and edging, weed treatment, fertilization, aeration
Alvis’ first foray into landscaping was simple: One of the board members had a friend who had some extra equipment that the agency was able to use like a starter kit for a lawn care businesses. Nature’s Touch took on another level of sophistication when the decision was made to ensure it was going to be a Green Enterprise. The next step was to look at personal, business and governmental landscaping trends and projected needs in central Ohio and then seek out the right training that would offer a long term benefit to our clients, to our business and to our customers. Alvis found the right training fit at Columbus State Community College’s Green Infrastructure Workforce Development program.
Today, Nature’s Touch covers the cost of training for up to 10 qualified participants in each session of the Green Infrastructure Workforce Development program. Upon completion, graduates receive a green infrastructure landscape certificate, and OSHA10 certification. This qualifies them for jobs with the Blueprint Columbus project of the Columbus Department of Public Works.
While they are in training at Columbus State, they are also learning on the job with Nature’s Touch. Nature’s Touch goes beyond Columbus State training, providing work experience and developing customer service, time management and other “soft skills” that employers need. It enhances the personal brand of Alvis clients, ultimately making it easier for them to succeed in the job market. It’s a formula with proven success: Nature’s Touch has expanded its customer base by more than 300% since it started in 2015.
Beyond the business, though, the best part of Nature’s Touch is seeing the growth in Alvis’ clients. Joshua R., a graduate of the fall 2016 Green Infrastructure Workforce Development training class at Columbus State, was proud to complete his training. The certificate he earned was the first major educational achievement of his life. Joshua has been very excited to see doors open in a way he never thought would be possible before coming to Alvis.
Join the other satisfied customers of Nature’s Touch and support growing opportunities by getting a bid on your next lawn care and/or landscaping project. It’s as easy as visiting the Nature’s Touch website at http://naturestouchlandscaping.org/index.php.
Gloria Iannucci, Sr. Director, Communications & PR, was the primary author of this blog post.