IMG_6409 I’m so excited to see all of the flowers blooming here in the city — spring is coming!  The new blooms remind me of my paternal grandparents and bring back special memories of playing around the crab-apple tree in their garden when we were little.  They lovingly cultivated a beautiful garden, and even planted a lilac bush for each grandchild when we were born.

There’s something so therapeutic about nature — from the vibrant colors, sounds, and aromas — being outdoors delights all of the senses.  It’s fitting then, that many hospitals, nursing facilities, cancer centers, etc. are incorporating gardens to promote wellness and healing.

The new Eskenazi Health System, now under construction in my home state of Indiana, for example, is building a patient garden as part of its holistic approach to patient care.  For patients and caregivers alike, this type of space offers hope, beauty, and a sense of renewal.

Sandy Henderson knows that a soothing landscape can improve quality of life, and show loved ones they are valued — which is why she is honoring her father’s memory, and his fellow Veterans, by helping restore the courtyard at the care facility where he had resided.

IMG_6411I first met Sandy via email when she contacted me through the Liz & Ett website.  She reached out about how my story resonated with her, and how she had been through the same indignities when caring for her father.  We exchanged a few emails back and forth, and looked forward to staying in touch.

Fast forward a month or two and I received an email that I couldn’t believe!  It was from Blake at PrimeWellness, who I’d just met at the mHealth Summit (where we had both been exhibiting as part of the EngAGE Pavilion).  He said that his mom was a big fan of Liz & Ett — and that her name was Sandy!  The same Sandy who contacted me on my website long before I’d met Blake?  Yes!  No coincidence here — things absolutely happen for a reason, and I know Sandy and I (and her family!) were meant to cross paths.

Sandy has been an amazing supporter of Liz & Ett and I can’t even tell you how wonderful she is.  What’s even more incredible, is that her caregiving story has led her to take on an inspiring project:  building the Veteran’s Therapeutic Memorial Garden at the Western Kentucky Veteran’s Center (WKVC) in Hanson, Kentucky.  As Sandy wrote me:

… Both of our projects came from out of our time as caregivers.  Yours for your grandmother and mine my father (he was a resident at the center where the garden is proposed).  I would take my Dad out to the courtyard to tend his flowers (2 potted containers his caregiver would plant and he would remove old blooms, watch her water if he could not, etc).

When Dad would tire and take a quick nap, I would look around the courtyard and landscape “mentally”.  I think that is called “daydreaming” :-)  After Dad passed away I decided to design a garden that would help draw the residents outside (they are not usually motivated to leave the building) and provide some stimulation to them as well.  I also wanted to honor them and let the presence of the garden project tell them they were still valued.

So, with lots of support and many “God sends” the garden is designed and this is the exciting part……..The Decorative Concrete Council has chosen us as their 2013 Spring Outreach project!!!  I think I just heard a band strike up and bells & whistles go off!  We have been working together for about a year to bring all this together. 

They will be staining all the existing hardscape (which will decrease the glare and remove a big barrier to the residents going outside), adding a large 10×10′ checkerboard for PT balance work etc., and another drumroll…….creating a beautiful compass rose with patriotic icons designed to honor and express gratitude for our residents’ service.

compass rose_sample

Sample compass rose decorative concrete design

The Decorative Concrete Council Project is set for May 12-18th and is being being fully funded by the generosity of the Decorative Concrete Council, a non-profit organization of the American Society of Concrete Contractors.

To learn more about the project, download the Veterans Garden_presentation and overview of the design plan, or contact Sandy directly!



As Sandy says:

The residents will LOVE watching all this happen and hopefully feel honored and valued by the new compass rose!!

I think they will, too, and I can’t wait to see the completed design!

This project is also near to my heart because my grandfather–who, as an avid bird watcher, was perched on the deck with his binoculars as we chased around the garden–was a Veteran of WWII.  I lovingly honor his memory–and my grandmother’s–with this post.                                                 xoxo, Liz

For more information on the Veteran’s Therapeutic Memorial Garden, please contact:

Sandy Henderson, Volunteer Project Coordinator
Phone |  864-944-5052
Cell |  770-596-8613
Email |

Anyone wishing to make a contribution to the project can make checks payable to:

The Joseph “Eddie” Ballard Program Fund
** Please designate “Garden Project” on the check **

Contributions (sorry, only checks are being accepted at this time) can be mailed to:

Attn: LaDonna Scott
926 Veterans Drive
Hanson, Ky 42413