Shepherd House Assisted Living
In April of 2007, the NC91 WorldLegacy Leadership team created a wildflower garden, a Koi Pond with fish and water plants, wheelchair accessible planters, major landscaping and a fountain at Shepherd House Assisted Living in Chapel Hill, NC. Fifty children and youth from neighboring schools helped out on the project. Budget: $30,000.
Garden uses nature to aid mind and body
Author: Emily Matchar; Staff Writer
CHAPEL HILL — The patio at the Shepherd House assisted living home used to look out onto a blank, grassy hill.
Now the hill is dotted with lavender butterfly bushes, and the patio has an above-ground fish pond and garden tables planted with herbs and flowers. A stone fountain burbles outside the Alzheimer’s care unit.
“We look at [the plants] every morning,” said resident Bernice Whitefield, 83. “We say, ‘They’re growing! They’re growing!'”
The new gardens are a community service project by students of a Morrisville-based leadership program.
Sixteen students from WorldLegacy, which offers a number of self-growth workshops, came up with the idea as part of their advanced workshop, in which they are expected to work in groups to complete a community service project.
Almost 50 seventh- and eighth-graders from Culbreth Middle School in Chapel Hill also contributed by creating handmade ceramic garden art.
“Oh, this is so cool!” exclaimed Anna Gachechiladze, 13, as she watched a volunteer hang a ceramic wind chime in the gazebo during a ribbon cutting ceremony Monday afternoon.
Shepherd House has 70 residents in its assisted living and Alzheimer’s care facilities on Smith Level Road.
“The residents here are our grandparents, our brothers, our sisters, our family,” said Nancy Travis, a student. The students spent a weekend in April planting the gardens, using $8,000 worth of plants and materials donated by local businesses.
Shepherd House activity director Joanne Donnelly said she was overwhelmed after seeing the patio transformed.
“I cried,” she said. “I didn’t know how else to express myself.”
Studies have shown that access to green space can improve people’s mental as well as physical health.
Resident Flo Conklin, 74, said she comes out on that patio all the time, just to sit and think. “I think about a lot of things,” she said.
Before coming to Shepherd House, the Hillsborough native spent several months at an assisted-living facility in Durham that she described as “dark and dreary.” She likes Shepherd House so much that she took it upon herself to “supervise” the volunteers as they were planting the gardens.
“I love it,” she said, pushing a friend in a wheelchair around the finished patio. “Oh, this is heaven.”
Reprinted with permission Raleigh News and Observer
As a leader, I have experienced such love, joy, open love, and compassion due to performing community projects. I saw sad people become interested in our project and change their mood to happy. The seniors were excited and happily looking forward for us to come back so they had someone to watch and talk to. Being able to see a quiet timid woman look out the window for hours as we made the pond and garden was so fulfilling. Sharing with a younger aged lady in the assisted living facility and asking her to dream was a fearful experience at first. When she finally described what she wanted I was astonished. She went from a flat affect and no vision, to actually explaining in detail what she wanted and having a smile on her face. I can not keep what I have unless I give it away. To see happiness on another’s face feels better than just feeling happy by myself. Giving is a way of life Pamela Brannen, NC91
Our WorldLegacy LP team in North Carolina had the luxury of having two excellent community project opportunities, both of which were accepted, both attained equal voting early. I was primary source for the project that ended up not being selected by the team. It was recognized that both were excellent opportunities, but our team selection was easier to envision and was easily relatable to all of us. Although my heart bled silently for the excellence our team could have experienced on the project not chosen, I used this experience to get past my feelings and shifted wildly to become a core leader in the selected project. I ended up sourcing well over half of the $12,000 raised for project. I also contributed in excellence during the day of the project. Returning by myself multiple time to the Shepherd House was more results than I could hope for. Those resident’s smiles and beautiful life stories have poured love into me continuously since. Greg Frazer NC91
My experience in The Shepherd House Project was wonderful. The joy in the faces of the residents at the Shepherd House melted my heart. The residents were amazed at the team giving so much to them. The residents were amazed that we cared enough to come and to know that they mattered enough to give them our legacy. What a wonderful feeling of joy, love, giving that it gave to me and the residents Brenda Hampton NC91 What a great feeling to see all the residents faces when we completed the garden, fish pond and making the whole Shepherd House beautiful and full of life. I have never had such a feeling inside me of purpose before. LP is a great place for greatest you never new you had. Megan McCann-Mancini NC91