A Community Garden
The garden started as a series of boxes on land of the former Family Practice Building. The original purpose was to use that space in a productive way for the benefit of our community and employees. Recognizing the link between food insecurity, chronic illness, and poverty, Thomas Health approached the Foundation to assist in the launch of an innovative program designed to facilitate access to healthy, affordable food. In its first season, the garden yielded an estimated several hundred pounds of produce providing food for many neighboring residents, employees in need and community members.
As plans grew to incorporate the garden into other aspects of the organization, there were many discussions about how to improve the look of the garden and how to use it to reach out to members of the community who may not otherwise have a connection to Thomas Health. The Foundation was successful by bringing community members into these discussions and soon pro-bono landscape architecture services were secured as a gift from Chapman Technical Services and former Foundation board member, Sharon Chapman. Another community business based in Saint Albans, Peerless Block was enthusiastic about supporting the project. “At Peerless we recognized the need for attractive and functional outdoor space that provides patients, families, and employees a natural looking space to visit while still remaining near the hospital — how can that not be beneficial to everyone’s health?”, said Steve Doty, CEO, Peerless Block.
“When the Foundation approached us about their Community Garden, we thought this was a philanthropic ask in which we had to say YES.“
Steve Doty, CEO, Peerless Block, Saint Albans
As a local business owner, Robin Williams and his family have owned and run Spring Hill Pastry Shop — a business since 1948 located at 600 Chestnut Street in South Charleston. Like those before him, Williams makes all items from scratch every single day. The community loves Spring Hill Pastry Shop not only because of their variety and heavenly pastries, but because of the hometown feel the shop provides.
“Being part of the community is important. It is them in fact, that has contributed in large part to our success.”
Robin Williams, Owner, Spring Hill Bakery, South Charleston
Williams made the lead gift to sponsor the medallion in the center of the courtyard in the new community garden. “We should all have an opportunity to feel part of something, not just have a part in something”, said Robin Williams and his wife Chris when visiting the planned Thomas Health Community Garden in the summer of 2016.
His donation has set an example for other local businesses and individuals who want to see the positive growth and reach Thomas Memorial has in the South Charleston community and beyond. A tribute campaign for memorial and honor gifts will help to purchase commemorative bricks that will finish the area. Through these efforts, a large portion of the cost of this project has been covered through philanthropy. More importantly, we have a tangible result of how philanthropy can support healthy living initiatives the health care system is spearheading in our community.
The employees of Thomas Memorial participate in the upkeep and maintenance of the boxes through the “Adopt a Box” program. Hundreds of man hours have been donated by individuals to make this an attractive addition to the South Charleston campus. On top of that, it is yet another way for the organization to provide healthy activities to our team in order to improve their personal health and the overall health of our workforce. It is hoped that many more people will be involved with the garden in the years to come.
As this project is implemented in phases, we encourage you to come enjoy the beauty and peacefulness of the space and to volunteer your time to making it better for everyone in our community. To provide for the labor and future phases of the garden, a fundraising effort has been designed. Contact the Foundation about how you can sponsor the garden or purchase a brick.