Volunteers work to prune and beautify a scent garden in Nolanville, Texas, March 28. Thirty-nine volunteers, including Soldiers from the 504th Expeditionary Military Intelligence Brigade, tackle three separate projects in support of Keep Nolanville Beautiful's World Water Day service event. (Photo Credit: Christine Luciano, Fort Hood DPW Enivironmental) VIEW ORIGINAL

NOLANVILLE, Texas — The 504th Expeditionary Military Intelligence Brigade kicked off their Sunday lending a helping hand to their community partner and supporting the World Water Day: Nolan Creek Matters service event hosted by Keep Nolanville Beautiful here, March 28.

Soldiers and their children volunteered alongside residents, students from Texas A&M University, Central Texas Chapter Master Naturalists and the Girl Scouts.

Kelly Ann Blanchard, coordinator, Keep Nolanville Beautiful, organized the event to bring awareness to the importance of waterways, hosting three projects simultaneously.

“It’s wonderful to have outside involvement coming here to Nolanville to help us, as well as our own community members that care,” Blanchard said.

Fostering community service and serving as a role model in promoting good citizenship is Col. Bryan Leclerc, the 504th EMIB commander, and his 8- and 10-year-old sons who helped to plant two apple trees and clean out the scent garden at Monarch Park.

“It’s important to teach my sons and Soldiers how to give back to the community,” Leclerc said. “Anytime a volunteer opportunity can come up, it’s a good thing.”

Tree planting
Jason Leclerc and his brother, Aaron, help plant an apple tree with their dad, Col. Bryan Leclerc, commander of the 504th Expeditionary Military Intelligence Brigade, at Monarch Park in Nolanville, Texas, March 28. (Photo Credit: Christine Luciano, Fort Hood DPW Environmental) VIEW ORIGINAL

Command Sgt. Maj. Michael Mabanag, 504th EMIB senior enlisted advisor, echoed the importance of building connections and positive rapport with the community.

“It’s a part of Army values and selfless service of giving back to the community,” Mabanag said. “As leaders, we need to set the examples for our Soldiers, and seeing them here on their free time volunteering is great.”

At another site, Sgt. Melissa Lessard, 504th EMIB, and her 6- and 7-year-old sons travelled to Levy Crossing to help volunteers pick up litter within Nolan Creek and the surrounding banks.

“My kids are learning about how to save the earth,” Lessard said. “They have competitions at school to see who can collect the most trash and get excited about keeping the environment clean.”

Picking up litter, Lessard’s sons reminds the community to do their part and not be like the “naughty people” who throw their trash on the ground.

“It’s great to see the fruits of your labor once you’re done,” Blanchard said. “There was trash everywhere but with the help of our volunteers it’s beautiful again.”

Volunteers helped to collect more than 250 pounds of trash from the creek that included everything from house siding and a comforter to a tricycle and scrap metal.

The third project was led by urban planner students from Texas A&M University who travelled from College Station to volunteer and install a bioswale off Old Nolanville Road. Creating a rain garden with native plants, the bioswale will help to mitigate excess water from rains and filter out pollutants coming through the storm water.

“Volunteering is more important with cities that have small budgets and don’t have the tax revenue to do these big projects,” Haley Yell, Texas A&M senior, said. “As urban planners, we have a heart for service and helping others.”

By the end of the day March 28, 39 individuals collectively volunteered 80 hours helping to beautify Nolanville.

“Together, Keep Nolanville Beautiful and our volunteers bring out all the wonderful things about our community,” Blanchard said. “It is a beautiful place to live, explore and volunteer, and we are proud to call it home.”

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