Housing trust gets new look from volunteer gardeners
An area where seniors socialise has been revamped through a joint effort by young horticulturalists on a Parks Department training scheme and the Garden Club of Bermuda.
The Parks Department’s skills development programme formed a ground force with the Garden Club as well as David Cox, a landscape architect, to beautify the entrance of the Bermuda Housing Trust’s office on Cedar Avenue in Hamilton.
John Barritt, the trust’s chairman, said: “The Bermuda Housing Trust was very happy to be the object of attention of a group that is looking to achieve great things.
“We appreciate and support what they are trying to do.
“Our front entrance at Hope Homes was crying out for a makeover and what they have done for us is most impressive and welcome.”
He added: “You can be sure that the seniors we serve who come to our office will notice the positive change.
“More importantly, they will come to know that this is a result of a charitable and collaborative effort of a caring community and that this is just the sort of approach we at the housing trust are looking to develop and employ on behalf of the seniors we serve.”
Mr Barritt said the project was a "true win-win“ and thanked everyone involved for ”their very generous contributions and time“.
Anna Fulton and Cindy Young, of the Garden Club, said that the group was made aware of the project by Mr Cox.
They added: “Residents of BHT homes come regularly to their Cedar Avenue office to pay their rents and in many cases, this is one time that they can socialise with each other and spend some time together.
“The Garden Club immediately put this project forward to Roger Parris, leader of the skills development programme – a mentor group of young volunteers who are learning horticultural skills under the administration of Garden Club.
“Due to the 2020 lockdown, this project took a while to manifest, but in recent weeks the SDP students have removed much of the overgrowth of the gardens, planted new grass and levelled out the two paved areas where it is planned to have tables and benches for a casual meeting area.
“The Garden Club has pledged to donate new plants for the garden beds which will be done in the near future.
“We do hope that visitors to the trust will be able to relax, sit and enjoy this lovely new space in the centre of Hamilton, and we are happy to have played a small part in this worthwhile project.”
Mr Parris said that the scheme was designed to “provide a safe environment to host hands-on training opportunities in horticulture, for young men and women”.
He added: “We provide a structured programme in which young people are trained in the horticulture field and upon successful completion assist in trying to secure employment.
“The training modules occur three days a week.
“In tandem with this programme, the organisation encourages and supports the participants to voluntarily give back to the community in a charitable manner by offering their services, by using the new skills that they have acquired.
“In addition to technical skills, the programme also focuses on teaching the participants life skills such as first aid, health and safety, interview skills, budgeting and what to expect in the workplace.”
Mr Parris, a supervisory foreman for the Department of Parks, added: “We are scheduled to do additional community projects in the new year, including providing free landscape services for senior care facilities and special projects in which the hands-on experience can be enhanced.”
Mr Cox, who donated his time and expertise to the BHT project, said that he kept the design “simple”.
He added that he hoped seniors who used the new-look area would enjoy it.