Friends of Trees in Portland, Oregon engages adult community members and youth in their own neighborhoods, trains them to train leaders in other neighborhoods, facilitates planting of street trees, and does other valuable restoration work in the metropolitan area.
This is cost effective for the city, reduces storm water, reduces homeowner cooling costs, and has spillover effects through ongoing civic engagement of community members in other areas.
FOT also sponsors, organizes and otherwise supports educational events and speakers on related topics.
It's amazing how something as simple as planting trees has so many economic and social benefits. Top 5 best non-profits in the city for sure.
I have volunteered for Friends of Trees since 2006, first as a Crew Leader helping teams of other volunteers plant street trees in our neighborhoods, then as a Neighborhood Coordinator, planning my own neighborhood's annual tree planting. I keep coming back because the work feels so beneficial--to have more trees in our urban environment. But mostly I keep coming back because Friends of Trees makes volunteering so enjoyable--the staff sets a fun, upbeat, lively tone to every event. We get important work done AND we have fun doing it, which makes continuing the work easy.
Review from Guidestar
I bought two (very reasonably priced) trees from FOT for my parking strip. This involved some special steps, and the organization helped me all along the way to get them done! FOT arrived on time on the day designated and planted my trees. I volunteered afterward in the kitchen at the site where volunteers met for lunch. I met some great neighbors I didn't even know I had. My trees are blooming now. It was a great experiene over all!
Review from Guidestar
First I ordered trees for my own house and helped plant them along with neighbors. Then I became a crew leader on plantings. Now I'm a neighborhood coordinator and it's been rewarding every step of the way. Friends of Trees (FOT) builds community is many ways, not only in improving the canopy of trees along our streets, but connecting neighbors and volunteers with their own places of living.
You can't plant a tree and not think about them a little differently afterwards. The hands on aspect is key.
FOT's mission is growing, and keeping up with that is the biggest challenge of all.
I started volunteering for Friends of Trees around 15 years ago, but I have had such a positive experience that I keep coming back every year! They are always well organized, positive and dedicated to increasing the tree canopy in the greater Portland metropolitan region. They are constantly challenging themselves to improve their processes and they also work hard to connect with all of the communities in the region. Thanks to Friends of Trees, the Portland/Vancouver area is gaining tree cover instead of losing it! I will be back for as long as they keep it going!
I am a crew leader for the Neighborhood Trees program. This means I spend four or five Saturdays planting about a dozen trees. This experience never fails to make me happy. You would think the focus would be on the trees, greening the city and reducing global warming. But actually, the best part is getting to know the folks I am planting with, finding out why they decided to volunteer and what their life is about. Portland, Oregon is a big city, but this is the greatest way I have found to find new connections with others. I love to see neighbors who didn't know each other, become friends by the end of the planting. Then we go back to where we started and have a great lunch, prepared by other volunteers. In the end, the trees get in the ground, and everyone is excited to watch how they grow.
I really love what Friends of Trees does. I gave my brother a gift tree for Christmas this year and I enjoy all the wonderful trees all over Portland that Friends of Trees and their hard working volunteers have planted. Having more trees makes my bike ride along the I-5 multi-use path so much more enjoyable, and my neighborhood has trees filling in dead space, with the Friends of Trees tags fluttering in the wind! They are a great, hard working bunch, thank you Friends of Trees, thank you for making my air more breathable and our communities more beautiful.
I've been involved with Friends of Trees, off and on, since its founding in 1989. I still volunteer once or twice a year, despite my advancing age and physical limitations. I'm always impressed with how well organized the planting events are. Planting of trees is the most visible benefit of their work, but the bringing together of people in the neighborhood is even more important.