The Power of a Garden

garden pic

Have you ever noticed how gardens are almost magical places?  They are so quiet and tranquil, yet house a bustle of productivity.  At the risk of sounding like a total hippie, I believe in the healing power of nature.  I know, I know.  Totally cliché, right?  But in fact, a Time Magazine article describes a growing therapeutic trend called “eco-therapy.”

therapy1

Community gardens have been gaining in popularity specifically to combat the growing urbanization of modern day living.  Depression, anxiety, and emotional stress are all thought to be more debilitating due to our overwhelming disconnect from nature.

Additionally, as our diets continue to include more and more processed foods, we no longer get enough vitamins and minerals from naturally occurring sources.  Supplements can be expensive, especially compared to the cost of a packet of seeds or a tray of starter plants.  The Colorado State Extension explains that consuming a wide variety of fresh produce can provide the necessary vitamins and minerals needed as part of a healthy lifestyle.  Many people are discovering the emotional and physical benefits of growing food instead of lawns.

Through a partnership with Unity Gardens, we have hosted a community garden plot since 2009 to provide healthy and sustainable dietary options for the community.  However, fresh food is only one of the benefits of these gardens.  According to the National Gardening Association, they are often a catalyst for neighborhood improvement.  Increasing the healthfulness and beauty of any neighborhood helps inspire pride and ownership for residents.  Even the most broken neighborhoods can benefit from a plot of land that encourages cooperation, communication, and involvement.

If fresh herbs and veggies appeal to you, stop by our gardens to experience the power of nature for yourself!

A Summer Preview

I can hardly believe that summer is right around the corner!  During the coldest days it seemed like the winter would never end, and yet I look outside and see a blue sky filled with sunshine.  I’m looking forward to a summer filled with exciting activities, and we have a lot to live up to.  Last year some amazing things happened at The Family Resources Center:

We were fortunate enough to be a site for The South Bend Community School Corporation’s Summer Food Program, giving all of our neighborhood children the opportunity to have full bellies at lunch time.

The Kroc Center’s summer camp kids did an awesome service project for our gardens,

Garden project

Yay paint!

helping make colorful row markers for all the growing plants,

zucchini

mmm, Zucchini!

and spreading mulch,

mulch

Who knew gardening could be so much fun?!

so we had lots of veggies to distribute in the pantry!

veggies

Yum!

As the school year rounded the corner, we were able to identify and round-up 26 local children to participate in the Target Back to School Shopping Spree, giving them the opportunity to purchase much-needed school supplies that they would be otherwise unable to afford.  Kids, staff, and volunteers all had a blast that day.  Who doesn’t love a good shopping trip?!

shopping

Gettin’ ready for school!

Throughout all the extra activities, the pantry and its dedicated staff continued to fight hunger in our community.  The program served over 1,100 families, feeding a total of 2,638 people, during the summer months.

So, as I stated earlier, we have a lot to live up to!!  Now that the weather is finally warming up, come join us for more fun in the sun.  Check out opportunities you can get involved in at our website!

The Kroc Effect

After finally settling on a title for these posts, I am endeavoring to discover exactly what it means.  To me, to you, to the community…

South Bend Kroc Center

First, a little bit of history about our grand establishment.

San Diego’s Kroc Center was the first to be built with a generous donation from Joan Kroc in 2002.  Since then, these awesome community centers have blossomed in many different communities, from Coeur d’Alene,  Idaho, to Chicago, Illinois, to Memphis, Tennessee.  Each center is started with funds from the Kroc endowment, and then grows to support itself by reaching out to the community.

The Salvation Army Ray & Joan Kroc Corps Community Center in South Bend recently celebrated its 2nd birthday.  On January 29, 2014 to be exact.  It is currently one of 27 Kroc Centers across the country.  Offering fitness, enrichment, social services, and a myriad of other programs.  Each one unique according to the needs of its community.    Even the physical structures are different.  Like snowflakes, no two are exactly alike.

Salem Kroc Center

Grand Rapids Kroc Center

Coeur d’ Alene Kroc Center

Phoenix Kroc Center

However, they all have one very important thing in common.  Just like snowflakes with a common molecular structure, they were all built on the foundation of The Salvation Army’s Mission Statement:

The Salvation Army, an international movement, is an evangelical part of the universal Christian church. Its message is based on the Bible. Its ministry is motivated by the love of God. Its mission is to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ and to meet human needs in His name without discrimination.

Each center creates an individual mission and vision specifically based on the principles of The Salvation Army Church.  Preach the Good Word.  Meet human need.  Accept those who need us most.

How many of us spend our lives searching for a place to feel safe, secure, loved?  A place that will care for us just as we are, without asking us to be different from what God made us?  A place that inspires our creativity, motivates our goals, and encourages our wellbeing?  Staff that know us by name and smile when we walk through the doors?  A place to belong.

The Kroc Effect.  How has it affected you?

 

Go Tell It On The Mountain

As with most new adventures, the first step is always the hardest.  But with proper motivation, it is also the most exciting.  Blogging is definitely an unknown frontier for me.  To prepare, I attempted to figure out what makes bloggers tick.

I started reading lots of posts, paying special attention to the maturation process evident throughout each blog.  I started to notice similarities.  Regardless of the style, topic, or individual author, the over-arching theme I repeatedly observed was PASSION.  Each and every blogger feels so passionately about their “something” that they are compelled to share it.  To connect with others who share their passion.  To introduce new people to their world.  Bloggers are individuals who shout their good news from a mountain top.  Ok, a keyboard.  But really, the internet reaches farther than any mountain, and it’s easier to access.

So, what am I passionate about?

People.

Specifically, being able to help people in need.  This is totally what makes me tick.  Providing, assisting, caring, connecting.  Basic levels of human support and interactions.  Raw emotion and uplifting moments.  Exhausting days and exciting projects.  Chocolate and coffee (staples of the social work diet).  Fortunately, I have the perfect job that incorporates all of these things at The Kroc Center.

As I begin the journey to the top of my mountain, I am looking forward to sharing inspiring stories of strength and courage, discussing important policies that impact our mission, and introducing our team as we strive to support one another.  Oh, did I mention chocolate? And coffee.  Preferably both.