Two years ago, I took the lead organizing a volunteer park cleanup day sponsored by the cannabis dispensary I worked for at the time, People’s Remedy in Modesto, CA. Transforming our rundown local park took months of planning, partnership building, and rallying our community.
As the dispensary’s event coordinator and IT manager, I saw this as a chance to change perceptions by giving back. The event exceeded my expectations – over 60 volunteers came together and hauled away over 8,020 pounds of trash!
Here’s my first-hand account of all the steps I took to turn a vision into reality. I’ll also share insights and advice to inspire your cannabis business’s own community service events.
The idea for the park cleanup was presented to me by my district manager after the owner of Roam Lost approached our dispensary about partnering for a volunteer event.
Roam Lost had identified Mancini Park as an ideal place for a cleanup effort due to its overgrown and littered state. As the dispensary’s event coordinator and IT manager, I was excited to spearhead organizing the volunteer event for this great cause.
With four locations and limited upper management, taking ownership of this event was a chance for me to make a real difference. I was eager to rally our community to help restore this rundown park so families could enjoy a cleaner, safer public space again.
My dispensary already carried Roam Lost products, so my buyer reached out to see if they would sponsor the event. Roam Lost agreed to provide food, signage, and other event needs in exchange for branding exposure.
The owner of Roam Lost had already identified Mancini Park as the ideal spot for our cleanup efforts. It was visible, had overgrowth issues, and was littered – but was a park with good bones that volunteers could feel proud to restore.
The owner of Roam Lost took responsibility for securing permits from the city for our public event. He also coordinated with the city to have a large trash bin brought to the park for waste collection.
I checked the city’s event calendar to avoid conflicts. A Saturday jumped out as an early possibility. Warm weather would keep volunteers happy. I confirmed the date with our partners at Roam Lost. We were officially on!
Now it was time to get the word out! I wanted at least 50 volunteers – a big ask. At our dispensary, I put up signup sheets so customers could register.
Online, I made an event page on Eventbrite with a link to sign up. I blasted the link on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram using engaging graphics. Over 20 people registered just through Eventbrite!
To recruit volunteers, I created sign up forms and placed them at the front desk of each of our four dispensary locations. At the end of each week, store managers would scan the completed forms over to me.
I then entered each person’s contact information into our mailing list database. This allowed me to reach out to inform volunteers about event details as the date approached.
By leveraging our existing customer base through instore forms, we were able to gather a solid group of willing volunteers entirely from within our dispensary shopper community.
Obtaining sponsorships aimed at enhancing the overall experience for our volunteers, we approached our vendor, Rove Cannabis, who readily agreed to contribute by generously providing Subway sandwiches and snacks for all the volunteers, including the children.
In the month before the event, I sent emails to all who registered with helpful details:
We also sent out a text blast the week prior to the event to encourage any stragglers to join in our campaign! We gave out (almost expired) free Pre-Rolls in exchange for last minute sign-ups.
The sunshine was a great sign on event day. Our nonprofit partners arrived early and set up tables and supply stations. Volunteers started rolling in at 9am – students, families, seniors – sporting their t-shirts and eager to make an impact.
We split into teams: trails, sports fields, playground. Litter grabbers were going nonstop. Volunteers hacked away overgrowth with clippers. Budtenders and community members alike raked the soccer field. At lunchtime, we gathered for sandwiches and celebration.
By 2pm, we exceeded my wildest expectations – 8,000 pounds of trash cleared out! As people headed home, I made sure to get their contact info for future events.
Reflecting on this incredible experience, here are my key learnings:
By rallying together, we transformed an overgrown park from eyesore to community gem. The event generated tremendous goodwill for our dispensary too. I encourage any cannabis business to use their resources for good through volunteer days. You have the power to bring real change to your hometown!