Sometimes angels come in surprising forms.
Amy, a graphic artist and web designer with a passion for gardening, phoned Habitat earlier this year to inquire about a volunteer project. Amy was taking a personal development course and was tasked with designing a community project that would both use her talents and get her out of her comfort zone by forcing her to make new connections.
She happened to call at the perfect time.
In November, Lanikka, a Habitat homeowner and Women Build member, had applied for a grant to build raised garden beds for her neighborhood. Everyone was excited – and a bit nervous – when she received the grant.
“We knew we couldn’t plant in the ground, so garden beds seemed like a good idea,” says Lanikka. “The problem is we didn’t know how to make them.”
Neither did Habitat. Gardens are a post-purchase amenity, and not something typically provided or supported.
Enter Amy and her phone call to Habitat.
“I decided I wanted to build gardens because of my passion for bringing healthy food to others. Organic vegetables are expensive, but you can grow them for a lot less. I had no idea what a great response I would get!”
Over the next two months, Amy worked with Women Build to design the project. Amy and her three friends, who call themselves Garden Angels, met with Lanikka and her neighbors frequently to work out design and location of the beds.
Amy also went to work to solicit donated materials and funds for the project.
“That part really got me out of my comfort zone,” says Amy, “but I couldn’t believe the generosity of business owners and how touched people were by this project. Friends, family, community members and even my clients all wanted to participate in or donate to the project.”
On April 20 and 27, a half dozen Garden Angels volunteers worked alongside Lanikka and other Habitat homeowners building the beds, and then planting.
“It was so great to see these volunteers and homeowners working side by side. Habitat didn’t need to be involved much at all,” says Tracey Sorenson, Habitat’s Community Engagement Manager.
“I felt sincere gratitude not only from the homeowners, but also from the Garden Angels and friends, who thanked me for the opportunity to be part of community,” says Amy. “Over two weekends, we made friendships while we figured out solutions, shared garden tips, and watched our kids work and play together.”
Special thanks to Garden Angels’ volunteers and partners – including Walrath Landscape Supply Tacoma – for making this possible. Gratitude also to Cambia Health Solutions and Regence for their support of the project.