Student volunteers from the MGH Institute of Health Professions spent the morning sprucing up the landscaping at CRJ's Brooke and Sargent houses on Sept. 15, 2017.

BOSTON – More than two dozen graduate students from the MGH Institute of Health Professions traded their textbooks for gardening tools on a muggy Friday morning to spruce up the landscaping around Brooke House, one of CRJ’s residential reentry centers, and Sargent House, a program for young adults.

The student volunteers, who are studying various fields in healthcare, laid down mulch, weeded, pruned bushes and planed fall flowers as part of the school’s annual Community Impact Day. Several students said they were pleased to learn that Brooke is a pre-release program for men returning to the community after being in jail.

Volunteers get organized at Brooke.

“I think it’s awesome,” said Gwen Meredith, who is studying to become a speech pathologist. “Halfway houses are really important.”

Meredith previously worked at a restaurant where some of her coworkers had spent time in jail and had trouble finding work after.

A pair of Brooke House’s clients also chipped in, hauling bags of mulch for the volunteer crew. After they finished, they thanked the volunteers for coming out to help.

A team of students came to Brooke House for last year’s Community Impact Day and painted two offices.

Student volunteers working on the back yard at Sargent.

Having this year’s project outside benefits both Brooke House and the neighborhood, Program Director Howard Jardine said.

“It’s great for the Fenway neighborhood to see that we care about our property,” he said. “We help the neighbors out as much as possible so it’s nice for them to see other people come to help us out. We’re invested in the community and we’re invested in our property.”

At Sargent, the volunteers worked on the landscaped area in front of the building and the back patio area.

“It was great to have them,” Sargent Program Director Jenn Sirois said. “The front and back yard look great.”