It was a beautiful fall day on Oct 29, when 3 local non profits and 52 volunteers collaborated together for a greenhouse build and garden beautification at Casa de Amma. Casa de Amma nurtures the abilities and independence of adults with special needs. They provide a broad spectrum of vocational, residential, educational and social opportunities in a responsive and caring environment.
At Casa de Amma they focus on three main support areas — Living, Learning and Belonging. Their programs are designed to meet the unique needs of each resident and provide a meaningful experience for the entire family — because they understand families are happier when their member with special needs is living the best life possible. Casa de Amma is a long term independent apartment community that strives to meet each resident's needs as they age and mature.
Twenty-five volunteers from SJC Rotary club partnered with 20 Casa de Amma residents and 7 volunteers from Goin Native Therapeutic Gardens to transform the 1/3 acre garden space at the 45 room adult residential community. The 2022 Rotary International District 5320 matching grant for the environment was used towards the building of an 8x8 greenhouse with accessories for the residents to grow their own food from seed.
Rotarian Joe Soto, owner of Soto Landscaping provided 3 yards of mulch for the garden beautification. The volunteers from the 3 organizations mulched, weeded, seeded, raked and swept the 1/3 acre gardens working as a team. No garden activities included Rotarians working in tandem with residents painting wooden spoon plant labels, planting seeds in seed trays with labels and organizing the seeds packets in the shed. Goin Native volunteers guided both Casa and Rotarian volunteers in replanting the eight 10-foot long raised garden beds that currently provides greens, herbs, fruits and vegetables for the residents daily use. With our 52 enthusiastic volunteers saying "Yes I Will"!
We were able to finish the project in under 5 hours (8 hours was scheduled) and under budget $3500($4000 was awarded) we were being good stewards of our time, talents and treasures. As the founder of Goin Native, an Agriculture teacher for Orange County Dept of Ed (OCDE) Special Schools and a member of SJC Rotary I am proud of our community collaboration helping a group of people to continue to thrive using the garden as a connector and a tool for independent living.