State Farm Neighborhood Assist ® 2018

Veterans Healing Garden Program

The Veterans Healing Garden Program connects local veterans and therapeutic resources to community.

The Veterans Healing Garden Program enhances support of Mount Holly's veterans and their families by bridging veterans' sense of isolation to the community. The veteran population in NC is over 775k, ranking 8th highest in the nation. Each year nearly 1,000 veterans from the city of Mount Holly are recognized at a Veterans Day event hosted by the local historical society. Mount Holly is also a Purple Heart Community, and there is a strong commitment to our veteran citizens.

The current Veterans Park offers green space and playground area but is underutilized due to limited connectivity to downtown. Additionally, there is currently no sustainable program to assist veterans with their unique needs.

In many cases, the most painful wounds aren't physical. Thousands of veterans live with symptoms of combat stress, PTSD (1 in 3 affected), and other mental health issues. Research shows that spending time in outdoor retreat settings provides rejuvenation to heal brokenness into wholeness.

The $25,000 will address the unmet needs of our veterans by providing a location and a program for the healing garden. The garden will sit at the edge of the existing farmers market to serve as the terminus connecting the existing Veterans Park with the market. The central location of garden will convey strong support to our veterans and their families.

The funds will provide the construction materials including a water source, soil preparation, and plants for a topiary garden that will be maintained by veterans of the community. Professional signage will mark the location, explain the program's purpose, and bring awareness to our community of the ways to support and to honor our veterans.

Lastly, the funds will allow the community to retain the services of world-renowned topiary gardener, Pearl Fryar, who has already agreed to train our veterans on garden care. Pearl, a veteran himself, is passionate about helping veterans and their families find purpose in serving their community.

The Veterans Healing Garden Program will have an enduring impact on our community due to its location, its ongoing cycle of training, and its connection to community partners.

The garden will provide a dedicated gathering place for veterans situated in a highly-visible location in the heart of Mount Holly and will become the terminus connecting Veterans Park and Farmers Market.

Visitors from surrounding areas and community volunteers will have the opportunity to engage with local veterans to learn from their experiences. Field trips and other student-centered programs will be offered as well, thus establishing a legacy of learning.

Additionally, this garden space and its accompanying workshops to train veterans on how to care for it has the potential to become a pilot program for local communities in the state, even the nation.

Lastly, the garden program will serve as the catalyst uniting several community organizations to a common goal of supporting and honoring our veterans.