Jeanette Thomas' story, as told by Stephen Cremin-Endes, Director of Community Building & Organizing:
I met Jeanette, I believe it was my first summer at NHS in 2009. I do not recall the first visit. I do recall visiting her garden one time and having a conversation. What I was impressed with from the very beginning was her zeal and commitment to this place. Her story of how this garden started is a wonderful one – one that captures residents' willingness to do what it takes in the face of adversity and to be able to imagine something different – something beautiful.
We ended up talking and it became evident that many of the original gardeners were now getting older and as much as their hearts were into it – they needed some physical help in maintaining this significant space - at least a couple of times a year.
I had received a call from Yale New Haven Hospital to tell me they were interested in volunteering and asked whether I had any projects. I suggested helping clean up and landscape the Ivy Narrows Bird Sanctuary Community Garden. At this volunteer event, I met Chris Prokop, a current Board Member of NHS. This was the beginning for me to see how volunteers and residents can work together and assist each other to bring about and sustain positive change.
It has been an honor, privilege and a lot of fun knowing both Jeanette and Chris over these years. Their commitment to being resident leaders in New Haven is evidence by their desire each day, in the face of at times persistence and perennial challenges, to “keep on keeping on.” They have both attended and supported Neighborhood Housing Services of New Haven's Resident Leadership Program and continue to be leaders in this arena.
Read more via online features of the Ivy Narrows Bird Sanctuary!
New Haven Independent- Newhallville, Gardener Of The Week (2010): Bird Garden Fights Blight
New Haven Independent- Citizen Contributions, Environment, Food (2010): A Taste of New Haven Sustainability