House of Shalom forms new partnerships for community gardens

 

By Joel Charron

The House of Shalom Youth Centre and several organizations are working together to bring life back to their community garden.

Roughly 30 St. Thomas of Villanova Secondary students arrived at the House of Shalom last Monday morning to help prepare the 12-raised garden beds to plant their latest crop.

The House of Shalom’s newest community partner is Heart Defects Society of Windsor and Essex County. The Heart Defect Society has contributed financially to the project for its upkeep and maintenance.

The House of Shalom has partnered with the Heart Defects Society of Windsor and Essex County, United Way, St. Thomas of Villanova Secondary School among others to present this year's community garden. Work began on the garden Monday, April 30.

“We are grateful to their generosity and look forward to helping them spread the word about the invaluable services they provide to families in our community who have a loved one living with a heart defect,” said House of Shalom program director Holly Kirk McLean.    “Approximately one in 50 newborns in Windsor and Essex County are born with a heart defect. These numbers are staggering. Together through creative partnerships such as this, Heart Defect hopes to help educate residents of Windsor and Essex and raise awareness.”

Maria Hamilton, manager of the United Way’s volunteer centre, said they are one of 25 volunteer centres competing in an Ontario Volunteer Centre Network challenge that tries to get youth involved. She said there are 375 volunteers and 1,125 volunteer hours committed locally but noted they want to assist in getting youth involved in community activities in an extended period of time and not just for the challenge.

Lynn Ridgewell, manager of workplace engagement with United Way, said volunteers run every community garden in Windsor-Essex County. She said more students are needed to keep community gardens, such as the one in Amherstburg, going and that it gives students a way to get 40 hours of community service they need to graduate high school.

Heart Defect Society board member Warren Hayes said the society helps children born with heart defects. He said the Society saw the community garden at the House of Shalom as a good way for the Society to be more visible.

“It was a good fit. We just wanted to get a little exposure in a positive way to get our name out there,” said Hayes.

Kirk-McLean said the items of the garden would be used in cooking classes offered at the House of Shalom. She also added that they will make donations to the local food banks, Meals on Wheels and the Society of St. Vincent de Paul.

The United Way recruited the 30 students from Villanova. Students put in a special growing medium into the planters that was provided by Policella Farms in Kingsville.

“They’re committed to promoting a healthy lifestyle and eating habits to youth and we are thankful that they chose to assist our community garden,” said Kirk McLean.

 

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