It might be said that on the West Side, the Austin Green Team is to summer what the groundhog is to spring.
The sight of Green Team volunteers cleaning out the second-floor greenhouse inside of Austin Career & Educational Academy High School, 5352 W. Chicago Ave., on May 25 is a sign that summer’s ahead in Austin.
Each year, the venerable community group, which has been planting flowers and other vegetation across Austin for nearly 30 years, holds a 2-week garden sale out of the greenhouse to raise money for their summer activities. Last Friday marked the sale’s final day.
Tina Augustus, the Green Team’s newly elected vice president, said that, in particular, the money funds everything from gloves, food, drinks and tools for volunteers, among other expenditures.
“Our volunteers will take what’s left of those plants and start planting them throughout the community in our other gardens,” Augustus said, adding that the Green Team maintains six other community gardens in Austin.
This summer, Augustus said, the Green Team host more than 25 young people through One Summer Chicago, a summer jobs program sponsored by the City of Chicago. Augustus said the Green Team will put on workshops in the greenhouse at the high school and at the 15th District police station.
The group also plans on hosting a garden tour, which would entail leasing a bus and transporting participants from one site to the next.
“This will be a block club-style event,” Augustus said. “We’ll be inviting different groups from the community to setup tables at the event and we’ll also give away plants.”
It’s been a busy month for the Green Team, which also held its annual memorial service on May 20. Each year, the organization lays bricks engraved with the names of influential community members who have passed on in the walkway of its Memorial Garden on Laramie Ave. and Washington Blvd.
“The memorial service was widely attended by guests from all over the Austin community area, the greater West Side and across the country,” Augustus said, adding that 29th Ward Alderman Chris Taliaferro and Illinois State Rep. Camille Lilly (78th) were also in attendance.
Mary Peery, who founded the Austin Green Team three decades ago, was also in attendance. Peery, who is in her 90s, now lives in West Dundee, Augustus said.
Late community members who were honored with bricks include Agnes Robinson, Minnie Coleman, Hattie Kidd, Dorothy Daniel and Ruth Webber.
Coleman, Augustus said, was a longtime advocate for seniors and block club leaders. Kidd, a member of the South Austin Coalition Community Council, was a longtime community activist.
For many years, Daniel worked as a social worker, a liaison for New Homes on Quincy, a senior citizen advocate and SACCC member. Webber was an Austin Green Team volunteer and a member of her block club association.
Augustus said that the Green Team still needs funding for its summer programming. Anyone interested in donating, she said, can make checks payable to Austin Green Team.
The Green Team meets every third Thursday evening at the 15th District Police Department’s community room. If you would like to give to, or volunteer with, the Austin Green Team, contact Augustus at (773) 931-2145 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.