by Jonah Holland, PR & Marketing Coordinator, Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden
Greater Richmond ARC‘s effort to facilitate people with developmental disabilities volunteering in meaningful work is growing, and now includes weekly visits to Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden to work on gardening projects. Groups of 10 adults with special needs travel with ARC staffers to Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden each Wednesday morning to help with a wide range of garden-related activities including mulching and weeding. The botanical garden benefits from the help, and ARC volunteers accomplish individual goals — including community integration, volunteerism, and socializing with others, all with the added bonus of being outdoors. “It is a win-win situation for both of our organizations,” said Michael Foley, The Greater Richmond ARC’s director of business development. “Members of ARC have the chance to volunteer out in the community and gain important life-skills, while being surrounded by the beauty of the Botanical Garden, ” he said. The ARC volunteer program dovetails with the goals of the staff at Lewis Ginter. “The Garden’s passion is bringing people and plants together to improve the community,” says Beth Monroe, director of public relations and marketing at Lewis Ginter.
Patty Haymans, a Client Counselor for ARC, says the ARC clients are excited about the opportunity to weed and garden and she says they enjoy working outdoors.
“I had one young lady who comes here and last week, she asks me, ‘Can I come with you to the Garden?’….I told her, ‘You know we are just pulling weeds.’ She’s in a wheel chair. But she said to me, ‘I don’t mind! I can crawl out of my wheelchair and crawl around on the ground. And that’s what she did. I just thought that was just terrific. ” It’s no secret that many people are attracted to gardening because it makes them feel good. Haymans says that for many ARC clients, this is a favorite spot to help out. The Garden is grateful to have them.
The area that the team has been working on is an area of the Garden that’s needed some TLC, but hadn’t gotten the attention the Garden would have liked to have given it. Several of the horticulturists mentioned to me that the team from ARC is doing a great job.
The Greater Richmond ARC provides a variety of innovative services and programs designed to meet the needs of clients and their families. Greater Richmond ARC assists people with intellectual and other developmental disabilities to live happy, successful and meaningful lives. Helping people live happy, successful, and meaningful lives? That’s important to the Garden, too.