1

Mill Creek student making a difference through service

Staff Photo: John Bohn Charles Orgbon, a Mill Creek High School junior, is spearheading a "9-11Day of Service" at Dacula Park in Dacula on Sept. 1. The service project will include litter pickup, storm drain stenciling and a memorial service to honor Gwinnett's veterans.

Staff Photo: John Bohn Charles Orgbon, a Mill Creek High School junior, is spearheading a "9-11Day of Service" at Dacula Park in Dacula on Sept. 1. The service project will include litter pickup, storm drain stenciling and a memorial service to honor Gwinnett's veterans.

DACULA -- Charles Orgbon isn't waiting until he's an adult to make a difference in the world. In fact, at 16 years old he's already accomplished some pretty impressive things by way of improving the environment and honoring this nation's heroes.

A junior at Mill Creek High School (he turns 17 in October), Orgbon is chief executive officer of an organization called Greening Forward (originally named "Recycling Education"), a company he started when he was in the seventh grade. Seeing litter all over his school campus, Orgbon built an interactive website that provided clean and green tips for students, parents and anyone else interested in improving the world around them.

The movement took hold, and today Greening Forward promotes several meaningful environmental improvement acts, including the use of compost bins, tree planting and eco art. The ambitious young student is also starting a local chapter of the national organization called Environmental Professionals of Color (EPOC).

"Environmental Professionals of Color -- Atlanta Chapter creates a conversation about how we increase the scale and diversity of the environmental movement," Orgbon said. "If minorities are going to make up half the U.S. population by 2045, we're going to have to find a meaningful way to engage all communities."

According to the young activist, about a third of all environmental organizations have no people of color on staff, causing him to draw the conclusion that, "Conversations of sustainability are futile if environmentalists are failing to get all people at the table."

Orgbon, whose goal is to study environmental science and public policy at Harvard, has been busy for months making plans for the second annual 9-11 Day of Service, which will be held at Olde Mill Park in Dacula on Tuesday. Volunteers will gather at the Dacula High School football field parking lot at 5 p.m. and will pick up litter and stencil storm drains around the city.

"I heard about 9-11 National Day of Service by being involved in a number of national service organizations, such as Youth Service America. I serve on YSA's international youth council," Orgbon said of the council, which donates more than $1 million in grants to youth drive service and service-learning groups.

"The city of Dacula, particularly councilman Gregory Reeves, thought it was an amazing idea when I was talking to him about potential service projects we could do with the city for 9-11," Orgbon said. "(The event) is an opportunity to show the world how volunteerism and the spirit of altruism can rebuild communities."

Those interested in attending the 9-11 memorial service at Olde Mill Park should arrive at 6 p.m. Community leaders and student volunteers will be on hand to pay tribute to the nation's veterans, active military service members and public safety professionals. A tree, donated by Buck Jones Nursery, will be planted in the park during the memorial service, and refreshments will be served.

For more information about the upcoming 9-11 Day of Service at Olde Mill Park or to register to volunteer for the event, go to www.greeningforward.org/911dayofservice2012.htm.