Indiana Daily Student

Local nonprofit LIFEDesigns to hold ribbon-cutting ceremony for garden project

<p>Garrett and Casey Mangum are pictured building a garden. LIFEDesigns is holding a ribbon-cutting ceremony for its new garden from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. on Friday.<br/><br/></p>

Garrett and Casey Mangum are pictured building a garden. LIFEDesigns is holding a ribbon-cutting ceremony for its new garden from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. on Friday.

LIFEDesigns is holding a ribbon-cutting ceremony for its new garden 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. on Friday. LIFEDesigns is a nonprofit organization in Bloomington with housing and other programs dedicated to promoting independence within the disabled community. 

At this celebration, the nonprofit will dedicate the garden to Tri Kappa, a women’s philanthropic organization that gave LIFEDesigns a grant for the project. 

Kristen King, the director of community relations at LIFEDesigns, said the garden is close in proximity to LIFEDesigns’s supportive housing units. She said the organization is inviting anyone to stay afterward and help plant for the summer season. 

LIFEDesigns has 26 residents that live in the housing option, with six living in the group home, she said. The yard will be set up with a designated space for the group home and then six to seven other plots which will have a first-come, first-serve system for the other residents in the housing options neighborhood, she said. 

King said the plans for the garden began around April 2021. She said Tri Kappa had just announced their grant cycle and the LIFEDesigns team wanted to come up with a project that would benefit the isolated residents during the pandemic. 

“For a group home of clients, a garden would be easy, outdoors and wheelchair accessible to all of the residents in that neighborhood,” King said.

She said studies showed gardening helps with improving one’s mood and reducing stress, and having one in the neighborhood could create a greater sense of community.  

One client at the home liked going to the local community garden, she said, but due to transportation and staffing issues, it was difficult for him to visit the garden often. 

After the ceremony, King said the client will be able to walk across the parking lot to the garden immediately. The garden is much closer now, and she said she hopes there are fewer barriers to his hobby. 

“Everyone has a right to participate in their community,” King said. “Since we own housing options, we wanted to give the community a place to have a community garden.”

She said Garrett Mangum and his son Casey, an active member of the LIFEDesigns choir group, volunteered to construct the raised garden. 

Stacy Bruce, the director of member services at the Bloomington Chamber of Commerce and a key member at Tri Kappa, said at the ribbon-cutting Mangum and his son will be attending alongside several families and people within the LIFEDesigns nonprofit. 

“To be able to see the whole process – the garden at its very beginning all the way to the first vegetables that are going to be planted – is really wonderful,” Bruce said.

Mangum said his son has autism and that he appreciates LIFEDesigns for treating Casey like he is a part of the agency. 

The project took about 12 hours, and he designed it with a U-shaped space in the middle for people to come in and look at all the plants, he said. Mangum and Casey will meet with some others to put compost in the garden before Friday’s ceremony. 

Mangum said he’s interested in future LIFEDesigns projects and he enjoys working with his son on such projects. 

“I hope that the kids or the clients get to enjoy growing something on their own,” Mangum said.

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