Preparing a Garden Takes Team Members, Clients & Volunteers

Guest post by Kilby Watson, Community Engagement Manager at Goodwill Industries of the Southern Piedmont.

Just thinking about the fruits of our labor can be very fulfilling, but when that concept is applied to what is in the Goodwill Opportunity Campus courtyard, it takes on a whole new meaning!

It is wonderful to see the Urban Garden beds filled in the courtyard of the Leon Levine Opportunity Center on the Goodwill Opportunity Campus. It took one week and lots of labor to fill each of the beds with a layer of rock, dirt and mulch to prepare for planting.

Goodwill team members, including from our Goodwill Construction Services division, managed the bulk of the project in advance. To finish the filling project and cap off the last two beds, volunteers from Bank of America served by adding dirt and mulch.


Prior to their engagement, the volunteers enjoyed a tour of the Leon Levine Opportunity Center, and were in awe of the Bank of America Community Space.

“I didn’t know Goodwill did all of this,” was the expression of the day.

Once outside and in his element, volunteer Tao Yang shared his excitement about supporting the Urban Garden project.

“I have always loved gardens, so when I saw this opportunity to volunteer, I signed up immediately,” he said.


Volunteer Dale Sharpe added, “This is a wonderful way to get away from the office for a bit and do something that makes a difference.”

The Urban Garden will be maintained by clients in the Beyond Employment Skills Training (BEST) program as they participate in the horticulture program at Goodwill. What they learn to nurture and harvest will provide in-season fruits, vegetables and herbs for Community Table Bistro.

The BEST program is designed to help clients achieve their fullest potential in life through a range of activities, including horticulture. Clients learn the basics about planting, maintaining, harvesting, preparing and eating the vegetables from the garden. Participants see garden projects through from start to finish, learning about their own abilities and striving to meet their fullest potential.

Sara Trexler, Contract Manager at Goodwill Industries of the Southern Piedmont and member of the Territory and Specialized Services team, relayed some of the wonderful benefits of gardening.

“The benefits of gardening can include stress reduction, building self-esteem, increased problem-solving, developing of nurturing relationships, increased social interaction, responsibility, sensory stimulation, and the lessening of pain, as well as the ease of emotional pain,” she said. “All of these benefits contribute to the participant’s work preparedness and overall well-being, putting them in the best position to find meaningful, family sustaining employment.”


Now when you look into the courtyard, you will see that the beds are also filled with herbs and vegetables. The BEST clients partnered with McGill Rose Garden staff to ensure all of the plants are planted, watered and ready to begin their first growing season at the Goodwill Opportunity Campus.

It is exciting to see how the work of our team members, clients and Bank of America volunteers have created a wonderful learning environment for our clients and fresh local produce for Community Table Bistro.

“To plant a garden is to believe in tomorrow.” – Audrey Hepburn

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