By Paula Ebben

LAWRENCE, MA (CBS) – Working together to make their city a better, healthier place to live. That’s the goal of Groundwork Lawrence. In that city, with more than its share of problems, the work shows.

The Spicket River and the recently opened Greenway, are just some of the many projects of the grassroots group, Groundwork Lawrence.

“Our mission is to really make Lawrence a great place to live, work, and play,” said Heather McMann, head of the non-profit.

They do that by testing the water quality of the river and with river clean-ups.

“Over 120 tons of debris have been removed from the river. This year alone, over 6.5 tons have been removed,” said Groundwork Lawrence volunteer Jerver Abrego.

They also helped build parks and community gardens. A group of high school students called the Green Team is putting its garden plots to bed for the winter right now. But in the summer, they supply fresh vegetables to Farmers’ Markets and the city soup kitchen.

“I feel satisfaction knowing that I’m making some kind of difference here in Lawrence. We work with the community to really decide what needs to be done. Is it a park, a playground, or garden?” said Groundwork Lawrence volunteer Nateisha Santana.

Heather McMann sees a huge difference in the city.

“One vacant lot may not seem like a lot, but when it’s growing thousands of pounds of food versus being a dumping ground for tires and diapers, it hugely impacts the the people that live around it and overall feeling of the city,” McMann said.

In addition to a core group, Groundwork Lawrence also attracts hundreds of volunteers for big projects like the Spicket River clean-up.

“To have any of the outdoor places, it increases the quality of life and gives people access, and places to play and recreation,” said Groundwork Lawrence volunteer Katie Bekel.

It’s become a place to enjoy nature in the middle of a busy city.

“What I try to get out of this is one day, my kids will be able to grow up in this town and also be able to walk along the river,” Abrego said.

The team at Groundwork Lawrence has been working to make the city better since 2001.

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Paula Ebben


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