HomeFront’s New Garden is the Labor of Love of All Saints Church Volunteers
UNDER THE PERGOLA: The HomeFront staff and community members who made the Healing and Memorial Garden possible are, left to right, Dana Irlbacher, Bay Weber, Liz Wasch, Marc Allen, Frederick Wasch and Reverend Hugh Brown.
By Wendy Greenberg
HomeFront families were able to reflect on and appreciate the natural beauty of a new healing and memorial garden at the Family Campus of the organization’s Family Preservation Center in Ewing.
HomeFront and community members officially opened the garden on July 30, with representatives of the All Saints Parish family and clergy, Mercer County nonprofit leaders, HomeFront staff and patrons and HomeFront guests. The centerpiece of the garden is a pergola built by volunteer members of All Saints Church in Princeton, which has a long-term partnership with HomeFront, a Mercer County agency that helps homeless and at-risk families break up. the cycle of poverty.
“The garden is a natural extension of our Family Campus,” said Sheila Addison, Director of the Family Campus. “Both are places to help families rebuild after facing the pain and trauma of homelessness. “
The garden will provide a place for meditative reflection, moments of beauty and gardening projects, while commemorating the passing of members of the HomeFront family. During the dedication, a client of the HomeFront Family Preservation Center noted how the Mediation Garden provided respite during difficult times.
The pergola replaces a similar pergola built by the church in 2010 in the former home of the Family Preservation Center at the Marie Katzenbach School for the Deaf. After moving to its current location in 2015, HomeFront asked All Saints to build the new one, which was completed shortly before the pandemic outbreak but could only be officially dedicated recently.
The pergola faces a sprawling native flower garden planted with help from Meredith Melendez of the Rutgers Cooperative Extension of Mercer County, the Mercer County Board of Agriculture, landscape architect Bay Weber and the Wasch Family Foundation, according to church information. The construction involved five or six people at a time, about 20 in total, said All Saints communications representative Paul K. Murphy. He explained that the topography of the land is different from the old location, so a stone walkway of about 100 feet was professionally built. The garden was meant to attract butterflies, and he said some monarchs were seen at the dedication. “It’s a pretty large garden. “
All Saints’ Day parishioners built and funded the pavilion area, benches, path, and part of the landscaping from 2017 to 2018, as part of its engagement in relief and advocacy projects.
The Rev. Dr Hugh Brown, Rector of All Saints Church, said: “We are honored and blessed to partner with HomeFront to support families at risk; spiritual support is so essential to human dignity, respect and empowerment. Our own Christian faith calls us to serve God by serving our neighbor, especially our vulnerable neighbor. We are grateful to be a part of the Family Preservation Center’s Healing and Memorial Garden project; it is a work of healing, hope and renewal. It is faith in action.
HomeFront has been a major partner of the church for several decades. Other projects have included collecting school supplies, Christmas gifts and more.
HomeFront provides shelter, food, supplies, and empowerment, education, and advocacy programs. Last year, 209 families with 219 homeless children received intensive support and lived with dignity at Family Campus and HomeFront emergency shelters, said HomeFront Community Engagement Coordinator Suki Wasserman.
At the Family Campus, parents and their children are provided with a safe place to stay and all the tools they need to become self-reliant, including case management, child care, education, vocational training and placement. , life and parenting classes and more, she said. in an email. In addition to providing this type of service-enriched emergency shelter, HomeFront also provided permanent and affordable housing to 155 families last year and distributed rent assistance to 151 more. The association’s full-service model provides families with all the services they need to help them break the cycle of poverty.
Connie Mercer, Founder and CEO of HomeFront, said the garden is a symbol of “renewal, hope and new life” for HomeFront customers and guests. “My hope is that it becomes a place where our parents can come to reflect and renew themselves, our children can laugh and sing and witness the joy of nature, and those we miss will always be remembered. “