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179th Airlift Wing and 200th RED HORSE Det. 1 team up for Earth Day

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Joe Harwood
  • 179th Airlift Wing
The 179th Airlift Wing and 200th RED HORSE Det. 1, Mansfield, OH, came together for the annual Earth Day celebration, May 8, 2014. This marks the 15th year that the 179th has participated in the event and the fourth that the 200th has been involved. The partnership allows for more community involvement, with our airmen teaming up this year with the North End Community Improvement Collaborative (NECIC) to perform neighborhood clean ups.

Krista Boling, State Environmental Officer, 179th Airlift Wing, said, "Earth Day has been a great way to be involved with the local community and share the importance of earth stewardship with local students; as well as, show our commitment to the Richland County community."

The NECIC is committed to improving the quality of life for those living in Mansfield's north end community. Involving over 300 people and three years of work, the group created a community economic development plan which outlines comprehensive strategies regarding land use, housing, transit and community spaces, such as gardens and a community tool shed. The community tool lending library located at 199 N. Main St. is open Monday thru Friday, 9:00am to 4:00pm. They have also created a North End Elder Program, dedicated to those over sixty, who meet on the 2nd and 4th Tuesday every month at The United Steel Workers Local No. 169 Union Hall at 376 W. Longview Avenue. Housing remains a chief concern of North End residents, and as funding allows, the NECIC is working to match funds to address health and safety issues, deferred maintenance and exterior improvements for eligible residents. The group monitors the number of boarded and vacant houses with a goal to expand affordable housing options through the creation and/or preservation of new and existing housing in the North End. Free Financial Literacy classes are being offered as well to educate residents to better prepare for future financial success.
Jean Taddie, a coordinator with the NECIC, says, "The NECIC is a hub of information and resources. The 179th AW and 200th RHS partner with us to accomplish in one day what would take our volunteers an entire month to do. This helps us provide community gardens and in turn, helps educates for the community on an economical way to grow produce, then harvest and disperse quality food."

To assist the NECIC, the airmen assembled at five of their target locations. Community Gardens were created from bare lots with rototillers, raking, mulching and planting. The 200th RH members created a garden in front of the Harmony House on 4th St. and 179th members assembled at the other four locations; Turtle Creek Senior Apartments on James Ave, Raising Richland Garden on Spayer Lane, Yes We Can Seniors Garden on Second St. and a NECIC property clean up on Woodland Ave.
179th Airlift Wing's Vice Commander, Col. Michael Howard visited the airmen at various locations, he has been actively involved in Earth Day since the unit first began, said "Earth Day is a great opportunity for the members of the 179th Airlift Wing to get out into the public and show them we are partners with the local community, give back, and reach out. It gives us a chance to show what we can do for our local community."

In addition to the work with the NECIC, 179th members have traditionally volunteered to help clean up at local schools with the help of students. Discovery School, St. Peter's Catholic School, Stingel Elementary and Eastview Elementary each had a team of airmen to clean up and teach the children about the importance of volunteer work and taking care of the earth. One team of airman cleaned up the Shelby Wetlands Pavilion area as well.
Earth Day is celebrated across the globe on April 22nd but the 179th usually waits for the Ohio weather to cooperate in hopes of better conditions to work projects effectively. The community graciously receives the airman every year and the unit looks forward to giving back to the earth and the community.