Planting a Seed
If there is one thing you can say about the children in STARRY’s Emergency Shelter Program, it’s that they know how to get their hands dirty. At least they do now that a nonprofit gardening program, Grow Together, has come into the picture.
Founded just over a year ago as a community outreach of Gateway Church, Grow Together provides ways for people to connect within the community.
Their programs center around gardening projects, but they also incorporate Bible studies, GED classes, leadership training and ESL classes. “Working together brings people to hope,” said Michael McKee, Grow Together Director.
In this case, nine volunteers and eight children pitched in to create raised beds and plant sunflowers, grapevines and pomegranate trees. “The kids loved it,” said Theresa Hardy, STARRY Volunteer Coordinator. “One of the boys even changed his home visit to the next day just so he could participate.”
Theresa connected with Grow Together through Horizon Bay Senior Living Center, where she met Michael’s sister. When Theresa began talking of STARRY’s hope to plant a garden, the sister immediately thought of Grow Together.
Since then, the group has been out twice, once for the initial garden build and then again to add a rock border to one of the beds. “I’d love to see the program grow,” Theresa said. “We’re already working on a grant to build two more beds and to sustain the program for at least a year.”
But, besides seed and sweat, the gardening program needs one essential ingredient. “We need more involvement from volunteers,” Michael said. “The more community involvement we get, the more amazing things will happen.” Even if someone doesn’t have a knack or interest in gardening, there are other opportunities for giving back.
“Some of the kids might not want to participate in the gardening project, but they might want to build a birdhouse or be involved in a Bible study,” he said. “There’s a lot that can be done.”
One program Grow Together wants to implement at STARRY is to provide a potted plant to each child when he or she leaves the Shelter. “That or a birdhouse, so we need people to help with those kinds of projects,” Michael continued. “There’s a place for everybody.”
And everybody with a heart for service is welcome. “Show up and see what God does,” Michael said.
Future goals for the garden project include partnering with farmer’s markets and providing cooking classes for the kids.
To help with the gardening program, contact Michael at 816-835-9839 or email him at Michael@grow-together.org, visit Grow Together’s website.
You can also contact Theresa at email@example.com.