Driving up to our Daffodil Apartments in southeast Austin, you immediately notice the array of plants growing on Irene Vera’s front porch. Irene, a Daffodil resident for more than six years, spends her days gardening, caring for her dogs and helping her friends and neighbors keep the place where they live looking its best.
“I get along with everybody,” Irene said of her fellow Daffodil residents. “Everybody knows me well.”
It was Irene’s friendly and outgoing spirit that moved her to take charge of the community’s recycling initiative last fall. She explained that after her two grandchildren participated in a recycling program at Smith Elementary, they encouraged her to recycle too.
Last fall Foundation Communities staff visited Daffodil to demonstrate recycling protocol, but did not reach everybody at their doorstep. That’s where Irene stepped in. She reached out to her neighbors to explain the importance of recycling and offer her assistance.
Two months after these outreach efforts, our green initiatives team discovered that Daffodil residents had more than doubled their recycling rate. As a result, we plan on expanding our recycling education to more Foundation Communities properties.
Becoming the recycling champion at Daffodil provided Irene with the opportunity to stay engaged with her neighbors and take care of the home she loves.
“It keeps my mind busy and keeps me from going into the depression I get into from time to time,” Irene said.
After a severe back injury and other health problems forced Irene to leave her job at a shipping and receiving warehouse nearly 10 years ago, Irene said that there have been times when she has shut herself off from the world.
But being part of the Daffodil community – where people know and care for her and the kids playing outside wave hello – has been a source of strength.
“My neighbors look out for me, like I look out for them,” Irene said.
Going forward, Irene will remain a recycling advocate with the hopes that more friends and neighbors get on board.
“Recycling is part of the pride in having a clean space to live,” Irene added. “I’m trying to get everybody to help and do their part as well.”
Resident education, community gardens and green buildings are all ways that we demonstrate our commitment to sustainability. Our green initiatives help residents, like Irene Vera, enjoy healthier lives, contribute in meaningful ways and lessen our impact on the environment.