Earth Day is a special holiday in the Incompass Human Services community, not just because of what it represents to the planet – but it’s also the official kick-off of our gardening season!
This year, Earth Day fell on Friday, April 22 and Activities Specialist Cathy Brunelle once again put on a wonderful event! Day program participants at Incompass Human Services met outside of agency headquarters at 4 Omni Way in Chelmsford, Massachusetts, where Care Champions had setup stations with garden beds, flower pots, watering cans, and gardening tools. And this year was made even more special because a group of volunteers from the local BNI Global chapter!
“It’s been more than two years since we’ve been able to welcome members of the community to take part in an event like this, and the looks of joy on the faces of both the participants and volunteers said it all,” remarked Dan Esdale, chief marketing officer at Incompass.
Earth Day at Incompass is Really Earth Week!
As is tradition, each day hab room provided Care Champions with a list of seeds they wished to grow on Earth Day. And throughout the week, members of the Incompass community worked to prepare the garden beds and purchase soil so the group would have the tools they need to celebrate Earth Day right. Bianco’s Catering, who is also a tenant at 4 Omni Way, even got in on the fun providing individuals with the lettuce heads that were planted in the vegetable garden!
“We planted everything from onions to garlic to beans throughout the afternoon, and the weather could not have been better!,” said Brunelle.
Volunteers Had A Lot to Share About Their Experience…
For the volunteers from the BNI Power Players, it was their first time at Incompass Human Services – and their first chapter volunteer engagement since the beginning of the pandemic.
“My business is rooted in spreading joy, and spending the day with the Incompass day program participants was the definition of spreading joy,” remarked Dot Richards, vice president of the BNI Power Players and owner of Cards by Dot. “I loved being outside with the volunteers and participants!”
Ryan Hart, a financial advisor with New York Life and treasurer of the BNI Power Players remarked that he was impressed with the coordination of the event by the Care Champions, and could see the impact first-hand. “I was struck by just how genuine the Incompass team was in engaging us as volunteers, and ensuring they put on a great program for the people in their programs. And I can’t wait to see the progress of the vegetables that we planted throughout the day!”
The Earth Day Gallery
As he waters the freshly planted seeds, Arthur gives Activity Specialist Cathy Brunelle a giant “high-five” in celebration. Arthur is one of the day hab participants at Omni Way planting a garden for Earth Day, an annual tradition that individuals and staff alike look forward to!
“Since Incompass Human Services programs are all about nurturing growth, it’s only fitting that we turn Earth Day into a special day for our program participants,” says Shawn Nault, director of day programs.
After a year of pandemic restrictions, many of which are still in place, this year’s Earth Day activity was highly anticipated according to Brunelle. “We are planting a variety of vegetables, flowers, and herbs in the raised, wheelchair-accessible gardening beds and containers here at Omni Way, and everyone is really excited to see what will grow!”
Leading up to today, she said that “each of our day hab rooms provided me with a list of seeds that they chose to grow, both in their program rooms and in our patio garden.” They also spent time earlier this week preparing the garden beds and the soil.
Vegetables were a popular choice this year, as participants are planting potatoes, broccoli, spinach, lettuce, peppers, green beans, cucumbers, zucchini, butternut squash, beets, and even a few tomato plants. Bianco’s Catering, who is also a tenant at 4 Omni Way, has even asked our program participants to help grow some fresh herbs for their customers as well!
Gardening is a passion for Brunelle, and one that is she enthusiastically shares with the Incompass community through her role as an activity specialist. At the height of the COVID pandemic when facility-based programs were suspended, Brunelle provided seeds to Incompass group home residents and hosted virtual gardening sessions through Zoom.
“Gardening in and of itself is a very therapeutic activity and it ties to a number of clinical and day hab goals in areas of social communication, fine motor, gross motor, and independent living skills, to name a few,” says Brunelle. “We also have a plot in the Chelmsford Community Garden at Sunny Meadow Farm that we maintain and incorporate into our community-based therapeutic gardening activity.”
In the program rooms, participants have been reading about the history of Earth Day and the movement to protect our planet. And each room will also be working on a grow chart in anticipation of their seeds sprouting, something they are all looking forward to!
As for what will become of the fresh vegetables that will be sprouting from those garden beds, nothing will go to waste. Some of the fresh vegetables will be brought home by participants, and many will be used on-site for the cooking classes in the Omni Way kitchen.
“It’s fair to say that Earth Day is a big deal at Incompass Human Services!” says Nault, who also encourages everyone in the Incompass community to take a moment today to do something to help protect the planet. “We’ve only got one planet after all!”