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News: 2018 Founders Fund Winner Announced


June 18, 2018

Garden Club, Kenilworth, Illinois, has been named 2018 recipient of The Garden Club of America Founders Fund Award. The $30,000 award was announced April 29 during the 2018 GCA Annual Meeting in San Francisco. The funds will be used to install a therapeutic garden at Misericordia Home on Chicago’s north side.

Misericordia is a nonprofit community serving individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Located on thirty-one acres on Chicago’s north side, it provides care and services to 600 children and adults. Outreach programs provide counseling, social and recreational services to more than 200 families. The home is run by the Sisters of Mercy and operates under the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Chicago.

The Founders Fund Award will be used to create an easily accessible horticultural therapy garden. The design of the garden will include pathways and raised beds to accommodate walker and wheelchair-bound residents, tool storage, garden art, and a variety of sensory plantings providing fragrance, texture, and visual appeal. Activities will include interactive gardening classes, vocational training, and community involvement. Horticultural therapy made possible by this garden will offer Misericordia’s residents a better awareness of the outdoor world, promote communication and socialization, and help reduce stress and anxiety.

Two runners-up were awarded $10,000 each by the GCA. The Lenox Garden Club of Lenox, Massachusetts, will use the funds to launch a teen-run food truck in coordination with Roots Rising, an agriculture-based youth development program in Pittsfield, Massachusetts. Little Rock Garden Club, Little Rock, Arkansas, will use the award to create an outdoor kitchen-classroom at Dunbar Garden in urban Little Rock.

The Founders Fund was established in 1934 to provide monetary awards to projects proposed by GCA-member clubs. The award initially was endowed in memory of the GCA’s first president, Elizabeth Price Martin (Mrs. J. Willis) of Philadelphia, who served from 1913-20. Generous gifts from clubs and individuals since have augmented the fund.

The first award of $700 was presented in 1936 for English-language publication of the oldest known American herbal, the 1552 Badianus Manuscript, by Johns Hopkins Press. Since then, eighty-four Founders Fund winners and runners-up have received more than $1.5 million to save thousands of acres of land and innumerable trees, restore historic landmarks, establish civic plantings, and conduct research and educational projects across the country. Projects are nominated annually by garden clubs that are members of the GCA. Individual members of all GCA clubs vote among three finalists selected by a committee of regional representatives.


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