Scout coordinates volunteers to create ‘healing garden’

Scout coordinates volunteers to create ‘healing garden’

Photo by James A. McBride

gardenvolunteers-webMatthew Dezii, 17, of Haddon Township, checks on volunteers planting shrubs at St. Mary’s Catholic Home, Cherry Hill, on Friday, June 11. Several local companies donated materials and labor for the project. Also pictured are Luke Evans, Dan Woods and Thomas Woods.

CHERRY HILL — As part of an Eagle Scout project volunteers planted more than $2,600 worth of shrubs, trees and perennials on June 11 at St. Mary’s Catholic Home to create a therapeutic healing garden, according to Allison Burton, director of activities.

“When a resident goes outside into the garden with a staff member and walks along one of the pathways,” Allison said, “all the greenery taps into their senses and helps to lower their blood pressure.” She said of the 210 residents in the home, 70 percent have some form of dementia or have Alzheimer’s.

“The people who put together the garden and helped with the planning were recruited by Matthew Dezii of Haddon Township,” she said. “The 17-year-old was doing this to become an Eagle Scout.”

All the greenery was donated by Stellwags Nursery of Delran and Johnson Farm of Bridgeton, Burton said, adding that C & M Landscaping of Pennsauken donated all the mulch.

“Walker Masonry of Egg Harbor Township,” said Allison, “did the cement work for free. They had to break up the old concrete, get rid of it using wheelbarrows, and use wheelbarrows to carry the new cement. It was really hard work.” Walker did the job two weeks before the garden was installed, she added, noting that Ed Kelly, maintenance director for the home, coordinated the concrete work.

Some of the volunteers who worked on the garden were family members of residents, Burton explained, and the grandchildren of residents who died.

Burton explained that the area that was transformed into the garden was actually wasted space.

“The Master Gardeners of Camden County, a state-run organization, drew up a whole plan to scale for free to show how the garden should look,” she said, “and what trees and shrubs should be there and where they should be placed.”

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