Helping Grow Stronger Neighborhoods – in More Ways Than One

Jun 3, 2019 4:35 PM ET

Moya Elementary School in Southwest Phoenix has a new community garden and soccer field plus other improvements thanks to Rebuilding Together Valley of the Sun and 150 volunteers from Republic Services. 

As volunteers gathered before the start of the work day, Moya Principal Cindy Sanchez addressed the group and asked for a show of hands. “How many of you saw a garden as you drove up to the school today?” The school is in an industrial area of the city with few areas of green space. With no hands raised, she continued, “Our students haven’t seen a garden, either.” Which is why, Sanchez explained, the project was so important to the school and to the community. 

Moya is a Title 1 school, which means a high percentage of its students are from low-income families. At Moya, the school offers free breakfast and lunch to all students and serves as a food bank for families, providing meals for children to take home on weekends and holidays. 

The neighborhood around the school needs more recreational open spaces and its residents deserve an enhanced quality of life. This renovation project does both. It will provide a place to grow fresh fruits and vegetables as well as new space to enjoy outdoor sports and games. 

The project was organized by Rebuilding Together Valley of the Sun, a nonprofit dedicated to repairing homes and revitalizing communities. It included building 16 raised garden beds in the schoolyard, along with a shade pergola and benches. An empty green space became a soccer field with new goals, field markings and a dozen new soccer balls for the students to play with. 

New trees were planted near the garden and soccer field, and a fence was added to shield the garden from the nearby basketball court. Another team tackled repainting the school’s perimeter fence, and yet another group of volunteers walked a one-mile perimeter around campus collecting trash. Needless to say, Republic Services provided trash and disposal services for this project too.

The project was funded by a National Neighborhood Promise grant from the Republic Services Charitable Foundation and staffed by volunteers from Republic’s three Phoenix-area business units, including General Managers David Hamblin and Jim Groen, as well as from the corporate offices and customer resource center. Through National Neighborhood Promise, Republic Services is committed to helping rebuild, revitalize and restore neighborhoods where employees live and work. 

The Phoenix partnership with Rebuilding Together is one of 23 National Neighborhood Promise projects around the country this year.  

“Republic Services operates in 40 states, but Phoenix is our hometown,” said Alberto Guardado, general manager of Republic Services’ South Phoenix division. “Our hauling company is about a mile away from Moya. So to be able to give back to the neighborhood gives me a great sense of pride in what we stand for as a company.”

Republic volunteers were joined by several Moya faculty members as well as some local families. Rep. Ruben Gallego, who represents the area in Congress, paid a visit as did representatives from the Phoenix mayor’s office, the Isaac School District governing board and the Moya family, for whom the school is named. 

For more information about the Republic Services Charitable Foundation, visit