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Colleen Brown, the assistant store manager at Home Depot and Steven McClafferty, the Vermont Veterans’ Home Finance Director, worked hard in the sun Friday, along with 10 other employees to complete the new Memory Garden for the Dementia Unit at the Vermont Veterans’ Home. (Elizabeth Conkey)
Colleen Brown, the assistant store manager at Home Depot and Steven McClafferty, the Vermont Veterans’ Home Finance Director, worked hard in the sun
Colleen Brown, the assistant store manager at Home Depot and Steven McClafferty, the Vermont Veterans’ Home Finance Director, worked hard in the sun Friday, along with 10 other employees to complete the new Memory Garden for the Dementia Unit at the Vermont Veterans’ Home. (Elizabeth Conkey)
Saturday July 20, 2013

ELIZABETH CONKEY

Staff Writer

BENNINGTON -- On Friday, 10 employees from the Home Depot in Bennington joined forces with a few Vermont Veterans' Home staff to transform a vacant, fenced-in lot on the Vermont Veterans' Home property into what will be called the "Memory Garden," located outside of the facility's dementia unit.

According to Project Lead and local Home Depot Store Manager Scott Found, The Home Depot Foundation donates annually to causes and projects specifically linked to Veterans. This year, the VVH was granted $7,500 to complete the garden.

In 2012, Home Depot associates completed 550 volunteer, veteran-centered projects across the U.S., ranging from building wheelchair ramps and renovating the homes of wounded warriors to repairing and remodeling transitional housing for homeless veterans.

Bennington's Home Depot has been working with the Veterans' Home since last October to plan the Memory Garden. They've donated lumber, garden furniture, shrubbery, flowers, and, most generously, the time of a number of their employees, to execute the plans.

Melissa Jackson, VVH administrator, has been looking forward to the completion of the project and is thankful to the Home Depot Foundation as well as the volunteers for all of their hard work.

"If you had seen this space a year ago, it was just a plain lot," said Jackson. "This grant is helping us complete projects like this garden, that fiscally, we just can't complete. We have a limited budget."

The volunteers worked from 7 a.m. until late in the afternoon, braving the heat to spread mulch and topsoil, build raised flower beds, plant bushes and flowers, pour a concrete pathway, and set up furniture to create a peaceful outdoor space for the facility's patients who suffer from dementia.

Many of the patients watched the activity from inside, through a big window, and commented on how nice the garden looked.

Roger Crosby, 86, a resident of the VVH Dementia unit, enjoys reading car magazines. He said is looking forward to reading them in the garden once it is completed.

"I think the garden is going to look great," Crosby said. "I really like that path, but I hope I don't get lost."

Crosby has no reason to fret over this detail, however. The pathway meanders through the garden but leads whoever is walking it right back to where they started.

To learn more about the Home Depot Foundation, visit homedepotfoundation.org.

Contact Elizabeth Conkey at econkey@benningtonbanner.com. Follow her on Twitter @bethconkey.