Ryan has been volunteering with Extreme Community Makeover since last year, 2015. He heard about ECM through an online volunteer site called Metro Volunteers. He loved the idea of working outside and working with his hands. So, right away, Ryan knew ECM was the perfect match for him.
Besides learning dumpster tetris (loading the dumpsters in a way that maximizes its capacity for more trash), Ryan admits he’s learned many things by volunteering with ECM. His skills in landscaping and gardening have been improved, as a well as his teamwork and coordination abilities. He loves the idea of working with a team to complete each project, and he is consistently encouraged when the neighbors are motivated to connect and come together each time he participates in an ECM Work Day.
“Extreme Community Makeover sticks out because it is helping communities to improve their aesthetics and outward environmental appearance,” says Ryan. In his view, building up communities by making them beautiful is extremely strategic and impacts the community in a huge way. That impact should not be taken for granted. Ryan refers to a theory he learned in college, The Broken Windows Theory. The theory states that in order to prevent more crime and vandalism, you should maintain and fix up the a community’s outward appearance. The title comes from the statement in the theory that says, “Consider a building with a few broken windows. If the windows are not repaired, the tendency is for vandals to break a few more windows. Eventually, they may even break into the building, and if it’s unoccupied, perhaps become squatters or light fires inside.”
Ryan strongly believes that a clean neighborhood changes people’s moods, boosts morale and generates an overall peaceful atmosphere. Just as the Broken Windows Theory suggests, Ryan affirms that crime will go down in cleaner and more aesthetically pleasing neighborhoods.
“The small things really are the big things,” Ryan says with conviction and a smile. It might be hard to see the difference you are making just by trimming someone’s tree, for example. However, it’s making a huge difference in the homeowner’s life, then permeating to their neighbors, thus changing the entire community.
ECM is not only giving a neighborhood a physical makeover, it is also giving a heart makeover. Communities are given hope and encouragement by having a more appealing environment to live in, and neighbors are being inspired to connect with each other and help each other out. “Hope trickles-down,” says Ryan. The trickle-down effect changes the people in the neighborhoods and it goes from their neighborhood into the surrounding communities. In essence, restoring a window can change an entire city.
Ryan appreciates the beauty of Denver and is thankful to Extreme Community Makeover for giving him an opportunity to improve and take care of this beautiful city. Ryan deeply values living in a healthy and vibrant community. In addition, he loves knowing that he’s put a smile on a homeowner’s face just because he’s helped them with their home improvement project. Ryan expresses, “It’s important that people know someone actually cares. People need to know we are all in this together.” Ryan understands that changing a heart, changes a community. Plus, in return, neighbors are connecting with their neighbors, communities are being rebuilt and restored, and Denver is slowly getting transformed, one broken window and one block at a time.