Helping hands club
Volunteer Spotlight, October 2015
Michael Sexton - Backyard garden beautification Guru
Thank you, Michael, for your dedication to our mission!
October’s Helping Hands Club inductee is Michael Sexton, Harbour backyard garden beautification guru.
The Indiana-native started volunteering a year and a half ago after being transferred to the Park Ridge area. Being new to the area, Mike wanted to find a non-profit that he could do great things with and for.
After conducting some research, The Harbour stuck out. Reading the origins of The Harbour, Mike found out that one person's hard time set off a movement and created The Harbour. He was inspired by the cause and met with a Development Coordinator. After learning that the shelter's backyard was in dire need of a makeover, he took on a new project.
"My eyes lit up when she mentioned that there was an area in back of the garden that had pretty much been forgotten. It was a large area that was covered with dead bushes and tree debris. I thought that I might be able to clear away the gloom that encompassed that area, and make something beautiful. I just didn’t know at the time what it was that I wanted to make." - Mike
Having grown up with a green thumb (thanks to his mother), Mike is a natural gardener. He spent his younger years helping his mother in their garden.
"I particularly loved growing tomatoes and raspberries and strawberries. I was always fascinated with planting my own fruit and having a unique relationship with nature. This being my small gift to share with others, I wanted to share it with the youth at The Harbour." -Mike
Mike's company supports his efforts in making The Harbour green and beautiful. His company has given him three grants to help make Mike's vision a reality. What started out as a drab and dreary 1500 sq. ft. space has since been cleared out and replanted. Over 85 new plants, a sitting area and bird bath have been added creating an oasis in the backyard. A fire pit, tree swing and more are still coming in. Lurvey's Landscaping has helped out tremendously with this endeavor. Lurvey's graciously donated a bench, table and chairs and a bird bath. They also helped Mike create his vision and help him figure out how to landscape the area.
Mike's vision for the space is a calming oasis where youth can come, relax, enjoy themselves while they visit with Mother Nature. He envisions youth having a space to help them let go of worries, a place to sit, relax and enjoy the peace. Though he is almost finished with his plans for this year he is already thinking of expansion plans for next year. Mike would like to add a fruit and vegetable garden so youth can enjoy fresh foods almost all year long. Mike anticipates planting strawberries, raspberries, tomatoes, grapes, asparagus, cucumbers, arugula, squash, watermelon, pumpkins and more next spring. He would like youth to be able to go out and pick something fresh, enjoy a garden-fresh snack and enjoy the backyard.
The sky is the limit for Mike. With each new grant, his vision becomes bigger and better. The garden not only looks beautiful but it serves a nutritional purpose as well. Mike wants to remind our youth that the food you eat impacts your health. Fruits and vegetables can enhance your ability to achieve greatness. Everyone has long lives ahead of them and this garden can help make those long lives even longer.
"I love everything that The Harbor stands for, and everyone that I’ve come in contact with there are genuinely great people. It makes my volunteer work that much more satisfying knowing that the people I’m helping have good hearts. Next year you'll see me volunteering just as much! I'll be beginning my work on the second wing of the garden. I can't wait for next spring to come!" -Mike