When we arrived we were greeted by a peaceful quietness that you can only find in the hills of Los Altos. We were in a gorgeous valley surrounded by green luscious hills. This was Hidden Villa. City Year San Jose would spend the next three days in that lovely valley, working with Team Care Force and volunteers from Synopsys to help Hidden Villa in various ways.

Hidden Villa is a nonprofit educational organization that uses its organic farm, wilderness, and community to teach and provide opportunities to learn about the environment and social justice. City Year was there to prepare for Saturday’s big event: Synopsys Shares. This event was a weeklong service project led by Synopsys around the world. About 500 volunteers from Synopsys in San Jose were going to attend on Saturday.

City Year San Jose joined Team Care Force on Thursday and Friday to help plan and prepare for Saturday. We worked hard to get everything organized and ready, and by Friday night we were well prepared for the event.

Saturday morning, I finished preparing my project site, where volunteers would soon be spreading mulch next to Hidden Villa’s Community Supported Agriculture produce fields. As the sun rose, I watched the light dance over the fields of squash, tomatoes, and cilantro.

Around 8:30am guests started arriving, and I  welcomed our Synopsys volunteers. After they registered, we gathered our teams of Synopsoids around us. Once my teama and I arrived at our project site I explained that our mulching project would be very beneficial in several ways. It would prevent weeds from growing, which would eliminate other competitors for water. It would help keep the moisture in the ground, preventing it from evaporating. It would create new soil so that Hidden Villa could then plant fruit trees along the path. Finally, it would protect the main irrigation line, which was buried in the ground.

My volunteers worked hard all morning to get the mulch spread in our area. It was breathtaking to see so many people willing to help, and not afraid to get their hands dirty!

After lunch my team worked on building Bat Houses. These would be placed around the valley, allowing new habitat for bats and new teaching moments for humans. With all the materials ready, our volunteers got right to work.

By the end of the day Synopsys made a great impact on Hidden Villa and its community. Synopsys volunteers mulched 10,000+ square feet of land, sifted 400 gallons of organic compost, cleared out 500+ linear feet of drainage ditches, molded 88 root protection cages to protect plants from gophers, constructed 10 new garden beds, assembled 7 durable picnic benches, and many other projects. Our leader Grace Boal, from Team Care Force put it this way: We are 30 people preparing 500 people to serve. These 500 people are bettering a place that serves over 50,000 people a year. The ripple effect of positive change has never been more apparent. 

Written by Leila Daniel,  City Year AmeriCorps Member at Arbuckle Elementary


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