Friday, June 6, 2008

Giving and Gardening

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I was reading blogs (imagine that) and Silence was giving some great hints on reducing clutter. She got me to thinking about something that happened yesterday. First the back story.

Two years ago, a fellow master gardener suggested that we take on two projects. Both were to build, plant, and maintain flower beds adjacent to local charities. The first was at a senior citizens center. The second was at a local women's shelter. I did not know that there was a women's shelter.

The funds to run the shelter are raised by a thrift store. They take donations of clothing, books, furniture, toys, appliances, and sporting goods. I soon as I became aware of this set up, I began donating all of our unused, outgrown, or just unneeded stuff. Turns out with three kids and a large generous extended family, we end up with a lot of stuff.

I have been volunteering on the projects since the beginning, working on the design, installation, and upkeep of the flowerbeds. I have dropped off many many bags of clothing, toys, and random stuff for the thrift store. I also occasionally shop at the thrift store for books or seasonal clothes. It is a feel good project and a feel good way of donating.

Yesterday, it all took on a different meaning. I was talking to a fellow baseball mom during a game. I mentioned that I had bought a couple of prairie skirts at a thrift store. I was bemoaning the fact that I could not find new prairie skirts. She suggested I look at the thrift store at the women's' shelter. I explained my involvement with the women's shelter gardens and that it was exactly where I had purchased the skirts. She lowered her voice, leaned in toward me, and said,"I am staying there right now. Please don't spread it around, but they saved my life." I knew her son was staying with grandma, but I didn't think anything of it. Many children stay with grandma, especially during the summer. Turns out she was a victim of domestic violence. The volunteer staff of the center houses her, feeds her, gives her counseling, and helped her write a resume and get a job. Yes, she has a job. She plans to stay a while and save enough money to make a good stable start to living on her own.

The picture above is one of the flower beds. This is a Christian run charity, but don't worry, I am not going to get all religious on you. Before you even ask. No she does not read this blog and her identity is very well protected. Ignore the spacing, blogger is at it again and I can't fix it.


  1. Great post, Debbi! I think it's a hugely important point that anyone can be the victim of domestic violence. I remember how shocked we all were at the company I then worked for to learn that a woman in a very prestigious position was living with domestic violence. It's too easy to assume that it couldn't be anyone we know. I still think of that woman years later and wonder if she made it. I also think it's a wonderful gift to plant flowers at shelters, hospitals and hospices, soup kitchens, nursing homes, and other places where people really, really need to see them. Thank you! (By the way, Silence thanks you for your kind words and is in total agreement: Bring back the prairie skirt!!!!)

  2. hi ofb, thank you. I am a bit in awe of this woman and the work she is putting into rebuilding her life. Knowing this also makes me very grateful for my happy marriage. Tell silence she's welcome and happy prarie skirt hunting.

  3. It's always great when we can help people and not even know it. My sister was a victim of domestic violence in her first marriage. It's a hard thing to get out of, it takes a lot of courage. I am glad that your friend is able to escape a bad situation and making it on her own.

  4. Debbi, I'm so pleased you posted this. It's great when you see the actual end result of your good work isn't it, even though the circumstances that led to that need are oh so wrong. I'm not religious either, but I'm glad when I see Christianity in practice, though I view it as how I want to treat my fellow human beings rather than a matter of faith.

  5. Hi vp, I never thought I would actually know someone who would need these services. Just like ofb said, it can happen to anyone.