The Charitable Projects Committee met on March 3 and chose two proposals worthy of a $5,000 award, the largest that the club gives annually. Club members will vote for the project they prefer at the April membership meeting, or a written vote may be submitted before April 23 if they are unable to attend the meeting. Several additional projects also remain under consideration, and they, along with the losing of these two options, may be funded to a greater or lesser degree depending on the moneys available in the Charitable Projects fund at the end of April. Last year $3,500 in donations came in between the committee meeting and the end of the year; as a result, we were able to be generous. Heads Up if you have not yet contributed: please send your donation to Cathy LoPresti today!
Option 1: Edwins Leadership and Restaurant Institute
Planting the Seeds of a Second Chance: Horticulture 101 at Grafton Correctional Institution
The mission at Edwins is “to teach a skilled trade in the culinary arts, to empower willing minds through passion for the hospitality industry, and to prepare students for a successful transition into the world of business professionals.” In the restaurant at Shaker Square, formerly incarcerated adults learn all aspects of restaurant operations. The restaurant is profitable, and provides over 55% of educational program expenses. The recidivism rate for Edwin’s graduates to date is an impressive 0%.
An SLGC grant of $5,000 would provide operating support for an important expansion of the Edwins mission: to provide formal education in culinary horticulture to inmates still incarcerated at the Grafton Correctional Institution. This program was started last year; they “cobbled together a garden and students (over 50 participated) to plant, weed, and harvest”. Program managers quickly realized they needed a planned curriculum, proper supplies, and the leadership of a Master Gardener. SLGC support would allow Edwins to hire a Master Gardener to develop the program and curriculum, purchase supplies and equipment, engage at least 25 currently incarcerated individuals in the program, and engage at least 75 more to help maintain the garden plot.
Historically, SLGC support for horticulture education programs has gone to children and young adults. Funding this project would be a departure into the education of an underserved adult population, under the aegis of a program which has so far proven successful.
Option 2: The Nature Center at Shaker Lakes
Enhancing Habitat Restoration Programs on the Nature Center’s 20 Acres
Shaker Lakes Garden Club is a long-standing ally of the Nature Center. Our members were instrumental in its establishment 50 years ago, and we have supported its efforts during its history. The NCSL is currently creating a Geographical Information System database that will consist of a detailed, layered survey of the Center’s entire acreage, using GPS to outline each habitat type and to locate existing desirable plants, invasive plants to be extirpated, and locations requiring additional planting. This will enable the Center to pinpoint and prioritize areas for planting additional native trees, shrubs, and herbaceous plants.
An SLGC grant of $5,000 would provide material necessities that are critical to realize the goals identified by the GIS mapping. First, it would provide the equipment and supplies required for the volunteer land stewards who do the restoration work itself, under the leadership of the Natural Resources and Facilities staff. Second, funding would provide the first influx of native trees, shrubs, and plants that are determined most necessary as a result of the mapping. The NCSL is committed to sustainable practices and public education. Trails now provide public access to all areas, and the mapping program will enhance demonstration garden areas to highlight biodiversity in each habitat, while workshops will teach sustainable gardening practices.
In this anniversary year for both SLGC and the NCSL, funding this major grant request would make possible the first steps of a new era for an organization we support and admire.
If you have any questions about these proposals, please feel free to speak with either of us.
Cathy Lo Presti and Leigh Fabens, co-chairs