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Community Service: Putting kids first

  • SIMA
- Posted: October 17, 2016
By Alicia Hoisington

It’s all about the kids when it comes to JLS Landscape & Sprinkler’s community service and charitable initiatives.

“Kids are close to my heart,” says John Reffel III, CSP, president of the Sedalia, CO-based company. “They need to get off to a good start in life, or the best start possible.”

That’s why JLS supports two major charities: Mount Saint Vincent and the Denver Children’s Home.

Mount Saint Vincent, established in 1883, is a treatment center for children with behavioral and emotional challenges stemming from mental illness, trauma, abuse or neglect. The organization also provides long-term housing for 35 children between the ages of 5 and 12, and it has a K-8 school on site so that kids won’t fall too far behind in their education.

Reffel says JLS has volunteered time, equipment and material to Mount Saint Vincent since 2009. The company also has offered its services from weeding, pruning, mulching and planting to enhance the organization’s main entrance and landscape on its 40-acre site.

The Denver Children’s Home offers therapeutic support and education to regional children and their families who are abused, neglected and traumatized by mental health issues.

The work with the Denver Children’s Home is equally important to Reffel. Many of the children in the program come from all types of backgrounds and don’t always have the greatest role models, he says, and many have been kicked out of school.

“They don’t have a support system to speak of,” Reffel says. “[The Denver Children’s Home] helps the kids with social skills and get diplomas. They help them find part-time jobs to participate in the workforce and to become responsible.”

JLS has been participating in a community gift and toy drive since 2001, which has grown to more than 20,000 items per year. Mount Saint Vincent and Denver Children’s Home are two of the many charities that benefit from the drive. JLS has also helped such charities as the Denver Safehouse, Gateway Women’s Center, Visiting Nurses, Adams County Probation and Colorado Coalition for the Homeless, to name a few.

JLS Landscape
JLS Landscape & Sprinkler employees donate time, equipment and materials to enhance the landscaping of facilities that serve children in need.

Keeping a balance
Reffel says serving 10-plus charities helps keep him balanced.

“We may have a good year, month or week, but maybe people out there are not doing well,” he says. “No matter where we are in the system, whether we’re doing really well, there’s always somebody who needs help.”

JLS employees also get involved. Employees are encouraged to volunteer their time for the work days or the toy drive. JLS posts flyers for employees to see and shares event information during company meetings. Last year, 80% of the company’s year-round employees participated in at least one event.

Reffel encourages other business owners to get involved in their communities.

“Look around your immediate community and see who needs help and what you might be able to do,” he says. “In some cases it’s about volunteering time. In other cases it’s a donation of material, clothing or food.”

And while JLS has focused its community service on children’s initiatives, Reffel says it’s important not to forget about other generations. Because it’s all about balance, Reffel says there are plans to branch out to also help seniors.

“I worry sometimes with our focus on kids that maybe we are ignoring seniors, so this may change,” he says. “Seniors are sometimes forgotten, in particular around the holidays. Everyone thinks about children and their needs and there is not enough focus on seniors.”

Alicia Hoisington is a freelance writer based in Cleveland. Contact her at
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