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Garden cultivates hope for victims of domestic abuse, homelessness

  • Subject: [cg] Garden cultivates hope for victims of domestic abuse, homelessness
  • From: Don Boekelheide <dboekelheide@yahoo.com>
  • Date: Fri, 29 Oct 2004 10:49:45 -0700 (PDT)

From the San Mateo Co. CA, Times

Garden cultivates hope for victims of domestic abuse,
homelessness

By Nicole Neroulias, STAFF WRITER

MENLO PARK -- Volunteers and residents at Haven Family
House hope to grow more than just vegetables in the
New Beginnings Garden.

During Wednesday's dedication ceremony, they spoke of
cultivating peace of mind for survivors of
homelessness and domestic abuse, along with the rows
of lettuce and onions.

"It's going to be a source of fresh food, but also
inspiration and respite for the folks that live here,"
said Michelle Jackson, Shelter Network executive
director.

Haven Family House, which was built in 1991, has 25
apartments. Shelter Network uses 17 as short-term
housing for homeless families; eight apartments are
reserved for longer stays by clients sponsored by
Community Overcoming Relationship Abuse.

Nineteen sponsors, including Sunset Magazine and
Studio3 Design, donated $90,000 in supplies and funds
for the garden project.

County Supervisor Rose Jacobs Gibson praised the
volunteers for their efforts and noted the symbolism
of "new life, change of seasons, nurturing and care
and new beginnings" the garden presented for the
emotionally and physically fragile residents.

Supporting Gibson's statements, a domestic-abuse
survivor tearfully expressed her thoughts about seeing
Haven Family House for the first time.

"This place is absolutely beautiful," Brandye said. "I
could have never pictured how beautiful this would
be."

Brandye, who declined to give her last name, and her
two young daughters will move into Haven Family House
next month, after she finishes taking the high-school
GED exam. As CORA clients, they may stay for up to two
years; the longest they have stayed anywhere since
fleeing their abusive home last year was four months
spent in a San Mateo shelter.

For Brandy and her daughters, Haven Family House
represents stability, and the serene garden reminds
them of what it feels like to have peace of mind
again.

"I'm free to get my hair done, to take my girls to the
park, to sleep in on weekends," Brandye said. "I can
show my girls that there is more to life than fear."

For more information about the garden, Shelter Network
or CORA, call Amy Wright at (650) 685-5880, Ext. 13.


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