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News Release

Greenwood County Healing Garden Wins National YMCA Grant


December 3, 2012--Last spring, the National YMCA Foundation offered $5,000 through its Fresh Page Project. The project encouraged community revitalization projects, and voting was conducted on the YMCA of the USA’s Facebook page. Healthy Greenwood Neighborhoods entered the Veteran’s Affairs Healing Garden project, which was then selected as a top five finalist. The project then garnered the most “likes” on Facebook and they learned that they were the national winners! They were ready to get to work using the award money to create a healing garden in the courtyard of the Veteran’s Affairs Building.

Before the veteran’s occupied the building last spring, the facility was suffering from many years of neglect. But thanks to the outpouring of community support, the facility is now making a transformation.

NRCS Outreach Specialist Elyse Benson coordinated the revitalization project, designed the planting, and conducted a Volunteer Day, appropriately enough, on Veterans Day, November 12th! She invited the Lakelands Master Gardeners to design and plant a perennial garden along the perimeter of the Healing Garden, as well as native plants in both gardens. “I wanted to keep it simple, quiet and low maintenance,” she explained. “The centerpiece of the Healing Garden is the largest Japanese maple I’ve ever seen, which makes this area perfect spot for conversation, reading or the occasional game of checkers.”

Volunteers arrived armed with gloves, garden tools, and wheelbarrows and they trimmed shrubbery, hauled off debris, laid out gravel, installed a birdhouse, planted, mulched and watered. As they were cleaning up, a generous woman came forward to donate a stone bench, and a local tree service donated stump grinding to clear the area for the renovation. The Veterans of Foreign Wars/Disabled American Vets sanded and painted an art-deco style railing around the garden, and the ROTC assembled the wheel chair-accessible picnic table and a bench.

A small amount of cash and a huge outpouring of volunteer support and dedication resulted in a beautiful oasis. Elyse smiles when she says, “We are not done yet. We received another grant from Lowe’s, so we will tackle a patio garden in front next Spring. With so much support, who knows what else we can do!”

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