Gardens of Compassion
The Gardens of Compassion is a community gardening initiative created through a partnership between Community Missions and St. James United Methodist Church in Niagara Falls. The Gardens of Compassion has three primary goals:
- Grow healthy fresh food for vulnerable populations and teaching about good nutrition and healthy eating;
- Understanding our role as individuals and a community in Caring for Creation (approached through various cultural perspectives);
- Break down the stigma around mental illness by integrating volunteers from the general community with participants in Community Missions Mental Health programs.
How It Works
- Primary Gardening Day- Each Monday from 10:00 Am - 12:00 PM during growing season volunteers come to tend 12 raised bed gardens, share refreshments, and be part of presentations and discussions on Gardening, Nutrition, Caring For Creation, and sometimes even a musical performance!
- Daily Gardening- Volunteer gardeners sign up for shifts to water the gardens between Primary Gardening Days. Volunteers can come at whatever times work best with their personal schedules.
- Harvest and Distribution- As crops come in during the season, they will be harvested and put to use in at the Missions' Community Soup Kitchen and in the Little Wonders Early Childhood Development Center at St. James. All volunteer gardeners, including those with Community Missions' Mental Health programs will also share in the produce.
Getting involved is easy. Volunteers
from the general public can sign up below or by coming to the Public Information Session (2017 info coming soon) held at the
beginning of the project each year. Volunteers can register at any time during the growing season. The project needs a maximum of 20
community volunteers. Volunteers from the Little Wonders families can ask any Little Wonders Staff how to get involved.
We know not all volunteers will be available for the primary gardening day (each Monday mornings from 10-12). Volunteers are welcome to come at other times, even evenings and weekends. However, all volunteers must register and receive confirmation of their registration before they come to the gardens.
For this initiative to be successful, we look for volunteers that can be very committed. There are two reasons for this:
- For the gardens to grow successfully, they will need daily watering. It is very important that we do have volunteers sign up to come for additional days (beyond the regular Monday session) throughout the growing season to help with this.
- For those that wish to come during the Monday gardening time from 10:00 AM - 12:00 PM, we ask that gardeners be as consistent as possible. This is the time frame when clients from Community Missions Mental Health programs will be present. For the project to be truly integrative community opportunity for Community Missions clients, members of the general public need to be present. We understand you may not be able to be there at that time, but if you can it will mean a lot for the program. It allows for our clients to get to know you and for you to get to know them. That is how healthy community integration happens for anyone... making the time for it and coming with an open heart.
For more information please contact:
Rev. Mark Breese
Phone: 716-285-3403 x2259 (if registering to volunteer by phone and you reach voicemail, please provide your full name, address, phone# and email. Spell out everything!)
Additional Contact Information
St. James United Methodist Church
4661 Porter Road Niagara Falls, NY 14305
Church email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Please note that all volunteers will be required to sign a media release to participate in this initiative.
Gardens of Compassion Volunteer Registration
If you would like to register to volunteer for the Gardens of Compassion, please use the from below. We will get back to you with all the information you need.
By The Numbers...
In 2016, Community Missions provided:
• 11,104 nights of shelter
• 89,366 meals
• 6,744 individuals with clothing
• 2,295 care days in Youth Services
• 46,888 care days in Recovery Services
• 73,994 care days in Housing Services
• 182 opportunities for Faith Development