News & Media

The Second Gentleman is Ready to Serve


Not even the sweltering heat could hold back Second Gentleman Douglas Emhoff and AmeriCorps CEO, Michael D. Smith from serving. They got to work creating green spaces in Baltimore, Md. with AmeriCorps members who serve with Civic Works.

Baltimore has approximately 16,500 vacant lots. While some of these vacant spaces are slated for redevelopment, an estimated 65% of them are in communities without development demand. Civic Works’ community partners identify vacant lots and small, undervalued public parks that attract trash and debris for cleanup. And that where AmeriCorps members come in. Serving with Civic Works’ Community Landscaping Team, they help improve the grading, install native plants, trees, and grasses, install rain gardens, bioswales, and other best management practices, make vacant spaces more usable, encourage residents to maintain them, and reduce the flow of nutrients and sediments in stormwater.

Joined by Baltimore Mayor Brandon Scott and Civic Works Executive Director Dana Stein, Emhoff and Smith served alongside AmeriCorps members at three separate garden sites. From digging in the hot ground to planting perennials and trees, they dusted off their gardening skills to plant the very first rain the garden in Baltimore’s Mount Clare neighborhood.

“We need to rebuild all of our communities, and if you think about infrastructure, even planting trees and having clean air and clean water, places for people to actually congregate, and that’s what’s so amazing about what we learned here. We are reclaiming this vacant lot,” said Second Gentleman Douglas Emhoff.

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