On Friday, Aug. 10, residents at the Atria Guilderland Senior Living Home got a chance to stretch their green thumbs once again.
The seniors, along with student volunteers from Farnsworth Middle School, gathered some dirt and a few shovels to create an indoor greenhouse in the courtyard of the residency.
The event was part of an ecological restoration project called the Pinebush Project, and was coordinated by Peg Boomhower, Atria’s Engage Life director who plans all of the seniors events.
Boomhower said when she first came up with the idea to enhance an empty space in the residence’s courtyard with plants, she approached Farnsworth Middle School for help because of the school’s active involvement with the Albany Pinebush.
She also thought student interaction would be very beneficial to the seniors.
I think the kids do something to them. They light them (the seniors) up and make them feel wanted and helpful, she said.
Kay Odabashian, who’s been a resident at Atria since the fist week of March, said she really enjoyed participating in the project. Odabashian spent a lot of time in her garden at home, and said getting the chance to plant again and spend the day with the students was a real treat.
`Just seeing the children come and do this is fantastic. They are so involved,` she said.
Jennifer Ford, a science teacher at the middle school and co-director of the school’s summerlong Butterfly Station exhibit, said the students who participated in the Atria project were not required to come but volunteered their own time to be a part of it.
`We’re always so impressed with the kids donating their time. It’s wonderful to see them interact with the seniors; they really blossom,` Ford said.
Matt Walsh, a Butterfly Station volunteer who will be starting ninth grade at Guilderland High School in the fall, said he thought the project was enjoyable and different from anything he’s done with Farnsworth in the past. `
It was a good way to meet new people, and interact with the seniors. It was fun to hear what they have to say,` he said.
Walsh was also very excited about the gift he and the other students presented to the seniors; five monarch butterfly cocoons inside a colorful zinnia plant that will hatch and be released into the wild.
Ford mentioned that Farnsworth does a similar project at the Teresian House Nursing Home in Albany. Next year, organizers are hoping to plant an entire butterfly garden at Atria.
For Boomhower, the gardening project is just one of many events she likes to plan to keep the seniors at Atria busy.
`I enjoy doing this so much,` she said. `The seniors make me so happy, and I like to please them all the time.`