Bellevue nonprofit's project helps land, youths blossom
Youths involved in a Bellevue area community outreach program have transformed an unused, grassy area behind Allegheny General Hospital — Suburban Campus into a garden.
Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield awarded a $3,500 grant to The Drop, a ministry for middle- and high-schoolers who might believe their futures are limited, said Matt Harding, executive director of the nonprofit Shepherd's Door in Bellevue, which runs the ministry.
“Through The Drop, we teach these kids values such as hope and possibility,” Harding said. “We provide them with a safe place they can come to play, create and explore.”
Harding said Kathy Ferri, community relations manager for Allegheny Health Network, helped start the project.
Ferri said she recalls telling a coworker that a field behind the Suburban building could become a garden.
“Not even two months later, I was contacted by Matt at Shepherd's Door, who asked if we would consider giving their organization the plot of land,” she said.
She loved the idea, but money was lacking.
Ferri suggested that Harding apply for a Highmark grant.
Mary Anne Papale, director of community affairs at Highmark Inc., said the insurer was excited about the project. ”The garden was built and will be tended by kids in The Drop,” she said.
So far this summer, about 20 youths in The Drop, with Harding's supervision, have planted two beds containing herbs and vegetables. The other two will sprout fall crops.
Grant money has paid for fertilizer, planting boxes and other materials, and some remains unspent.
Harding and Ferri plan to add fruit, flowers, a gazebo and benches, turning the garden into a relaxing setting for the youths, AGH patients and their families and community members.
Ferri said the project “will allow us to expand our health and wellness program, and kids involved at The Drop will be able to learn about nutrition through what they've grown.”
Vegetables from the garden will be used in cooking classes run by the health network and The Drop.
Papale said she hopes the experience will inspire some youths to choose careers in health care.
Chasity Capasso is a freelance writer for Trib Total Media.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Pittsburgh Soaring Club enjoys 50 years of riding clouds
- Young Achiever: Jenna Odom
- Alternate South Park cell tower site was rejected
- Fresh from the field: Volunteers nurture organic garden to boost food pantry variety in Monroeville