John B. Cary Workday: Using Vocation to Share Vibrancy

Our city is growing in vibrancy and opportunities as more companies move into the area, VCU expands, and this year’s festival season kicks off. At the same time, aspects of our city need more attention and support. The public schools in Richmond are surrounded by passionate residents gifted in a variety of vocations, but those schools do not always benefit directly from all the vibrancy around them. 

Last summer I visited John B. Cary Elementary, a school in Byrd Park and not too far from our church. For several years, our church has provided tutors and readers to assist Cary’s teachers in their work. I went to introduce myself to the principal and ask one question:

“What needs do you have to help this school rise to your vision?” 

I asked this because as I’ve gotten to know the members of City Church I’ve seen the vast amount of gifted, passionate, energetic people who help their companies and businesses thrive. How could some of those strengths in their vocations be directed to help a local school? 

The day I stopped by happened to be the first day for the school’s new principal, Mr. Powell. After giving me a tour of the school we stepped outside. Mr. Powell looked over the fields and said, “Joshua, you know what I wish I had was a landscape architect. I want to make this school a S.T.E.M. [Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics] school and a green school. I want the kids to know about nature and biology, and how the world around them connects.”  

Then he laughed and said, “You wouldn’t happen to be a landscape architect would you?”   

“No,” I answered. “But several who work in that field go to our church. Let me talk with them and see if they can help.” 

After several months on dreaming, planning, and sketching, a master plan has been created by people connected with our church: Liz Crim and Garret Stern. A rain garden, learning gardens, sustainable plants, and native plants will border the school, and teachers can use the space as outdoor classrooms for their students.  But to reach this goal, several phases over the course of years will add new elements to the property from this plan. 

On Saturday, April 22nd, 9am to 12pm, you can help with installing these learning gardens and beautification of the Cary Elementary (located at 3021 Maplewood Avenue in Byrd Park). Several other churches and community organizations are joining together to serve this neighborhood school. If you can dig, rake, spread mulch, or help clean we'd love to have you! To learn more contact Stephen Day, City Church Liaison for John B. Cary at