Many local businesses, members of the community and Life Bridges staff have been part of making this project a reality, donating not only money, but materials, services and time.
Currently, almost all the necessary money has been raised, but more donations, specific items and volunteers are still needed to complete the project in the next few months.
The idea to create a memorial garden came about at a time when the Life Bridges staff and volunteers had lost several people near and dear to them.
At the time, both staff and clients alike felt they needed a place of refuge and solitude to help heal their tattered souls.
“It is a place to honor the memory of the ones who left us much too soon. ... In building this garden, we hope to remember each passing with the respect due to them,” said Marretta Glenn, a direct support professional at Life Bridges who has worked there for 10 years and is in charge of making the memorial garden a reality. “Or, just to get away for five or 10 minutes to relax and reflect,” she continued.
The garden is roughly 100 feet by 50 feet in size and is located on the west side of the main building.
Several years in the making, donations were first collected in 2009, with plans and decisions being made and finalized along the way.
“It’s been a dream,” Glenn said.
Located on a small plot of land on the west side of the main Life Bridges building, this memorial garden will be strewn with evergreens, butterfly bushes, black-eyed Susans, Shasta daisies, astors, lythrum, Carolina jasmine, wisteria, knockout roses, and vinca. A fountain will be centrally located, with a small bridge, a swing, benches, steppingstones, a waterfall and pond, and a concrete walkway beautifully arranged within the now grassy plot. Chalk marks for the redesigned walkway — now encircling the grassy plot rather than going diagonally across the space in the most recent artist’s rendering — currently can be seen on the grass.
“But the most unique features,” Glenn said, “is that the garden is totally ‘green’ and self-sufficient — no electricity.”
Even the fountain will be run by solar power.
Although already decided upon, Glenn still has a wish list remaining to obtain some of the detailed items needed to complete the garden, which include white fence panels, a fountain, lumber for benches and swings, a weeping cherry tree, shrubs, mulch, a soaker hose and 300-foot garden hose, and sprinklers.
And, if she can swing it, Glenn also would like to add music and maybe even more fountains — at least sometime down the road.
Sometime soon, Life Bridges will hold a grand opening to officially mark the opening of the memorial garden, possibly as early as the end of this month.
About Life Bridges
According to its website, Life Bridges began with a desire by several families in the Cleveland community to receive services for local citizens with developmental disabilities. In the early 1970s, to get services, a person had to travel to the Orange Grove Center in Hamilton County.
First chartered in 1973, the Adult Day Center was started in Cleveland. Since that time, the program has undergone many changes, and has had several names. Though very small in the beginning, Bradley Cleveland Services (the agency’s former name, and before that it was HERMES) benefited from strong leadership, both from its staff and board of directors.
Walter Hunt joined the agency as executive director in 1980 and served in that position for 26 years. Under his direction, BCS flowered into what it is today, serving nearly 200 service recipients in more than 40 facilities. With more than 400 staff members, three onsite physicians and 40 licensed nurses, Life Bridges is positioned to expand to meet the future needs of Bradley County; in particular, those who are medically fragile and the senior population.
A major milestone occurred in October 1991 when BCS moved to its current location on 764 Old Chattanooga Pike S.W. The 8.7 acres house the administrative office, the Civitan Center for Developmental Training, and the Walter C. Hunt Opportunity Center.
In 1995, BCS became nationally accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities.
Life Bridges is one of two agencies statewide funded by the Division of Mental Retardation Services that is nationally accredited. The organization recently has built two new ICF homes located on 7 acres on Kile Lake Road that serve eight individuals.
It offers onsite outpatient health care; day treatment; residential; outpatient child and youth mental health counseling; therapeutic foster care; ICF/MR services; intensive case management; and vocation and pre-vocational training.
Service recipients through Life Bridges work on contract in the Hunt Opportunity Center. Patrons are given training and opportunities to work at Life Bridges and in the community. They also can receive in-home therapies and are given an award in recognition of service at Lee University, a partner with Life Bridges.
For those interested in helping Life Bridges, several programs are available, including providing education supplies, helping teach independent living training with household activities, helping with job training, teaching art and music classes, Meals on Wheels services, teaching off-campus classes, helping with recycling, taking people shopping, going to church, volunteer work, talent shows, dances, the consumer benevolence fund, festivals, the annual resales festival and camps.
Dr. Luke Queen is its CEO and executive director, and Diana Jackson, LCSW, is its COO and deputy director. The main office is located at 764 Old Chattanooga Pike S.W., in Cleveland. For more information, call 472-5268 or visit firstname.lastname@example.org.