A 22-year-old Richmond man who runs a successful and growing tree services company credits some of his teachers at Kennedy High for helping to plant seeds that would help inspire his business.
And now, four years after Julian Cabrera graduated from Kennedy, the extra efforts of the teachers who guided him are not exactly bearing fruit, but rather an entire vegetable garden.
Cabrera, who launched Julian Tree & Shrub at 441 S. 29th St. with his brother-in-law after graduating high school, is using his growing company’s resources to help special education students at Kennedy High build vegetable patches near the school’s football field.
A year ago, the company began donating loads of woodchips after hearing about the project. Now, the business is set to donate seeds, soil and labor for the garden.
Cabrera said the charitable efforts are a thank you to the mentors at Kennedy High who helped keep him focused on a responsible future rather than on distractions such as gang life, which had consumed a lot of his friends. That positive influence led to the launching in 2012 of Julian Tree & Shrub. At the time, Cabrera had been working landscaping jobs and he and his brother-in-law noticed a demand for tree-specific services. When the business got started, it had just one work truck. Today, it has two chippers, three dump trucks and clients throughout the Bay Area.
Sal Morabito, special education teacher, said he and his students are grateful for the local business’ contributions.
“Julian has been delivering free load after load…and also plans to donate pumpkins, cucumbers, and squash for three vegetable patches that he will create for us,” Morabito said.
Cabrera further exhibited his dedication on Saturday, Morabito said, when plans to deliver two loads of chips and stumps to Kennedy was thwarted by a visit from Snoop Dogg. The famous rapper, who had been coaching a youth football team that afternoon, prompted a strong police presence at the school that included restricting access to the area surrounding the football field.
Determined to make the delivery so that the garden project can move forward, Cabrera skipped out on family dinner to make the drop off late in the day.
“We cannot thank Julian enough for his Kennedy dedication to helping our students beautify our campus,” Morabito said.
Cabrera downplays his efforts, calling Kennedy “my school.”
“I had a lot of great teachers who taught me to do the responsible things,” Cabrera said. “I just feel it’s my time to give back to the community.”