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Seeds of Hope

A Small Garden Becomes a Big Deal



SASO volunteers show off the fruits of their labor working in the Homes for the Brave garden last summer.

Imagine a patch of land that had been simply dubbed “The Garden.” Over the years it had been inconsistently tended, with little effort when it was. This area of soil and plants was located at a transitional housing facility for homeless men, so even though some residents may have enjoyed gardening, once they left, it would sit idle, waiting for someone new to care for it, fighting weeds and not fulfilling its full potential.

This is a true story but not a sad one because due to an outpouring of enthusiasm and support from Fairfield people of all ages, and businesses, the garden is now thriving at Bridgeport’s Homes for the Brave, a nonprofit organization that assists veterans in securing employment and permanent housing.

The Garden Project started last spring when some of the residents asked Kathy Beardsworth, director of communications and outreach at Homes for the Brave, to plant vegetables in order to eat a little healthier. 

Upon hearing this, Beardworth’s ears perked up—she is a passionate supporter of veterans and their interests. The dilemma, however, was that her focus had to be on raising funds to keep the organization running smoothly while others on staff helped secure steady jobs and settle residents into permanent homes. The level of excitement for a garden, however, made her believe that this could offer the residents a life skills opportunity for both growing and cooking their own healthy food.

After securing donations, the residents got to work, and by the summer, there were ripe tomatoes and fresh basil for salads, along with watermelon and collard greens. Soon after, however, those original gardeners found jobs and permanent housing, and subsequently left Homes for the Brave. “It’s exactly what we want them to do,” says Beardsworth, “but it left our small garden overgrown and uncared for again,” noting that the challenge now would be to keep a community garden operating permanently in an environment where permanence was not the intention. After all, Homes for the Brave was in the business of helping their residents reestablish their independence, not stay.

That’s where Fairfield’s SASO organization jumped in. Short for Scholars & Athletes Serving Others, SASO is a voluntary group of high school teens and their mothers assisting surrounding communities. At the same time that Beardsworth was scratching her head about how to keep the garden going, Debbie Stapleton, co-president of SASO Boys—Fairfield Chapter, reached out to Homes for the Brave to learn how their group could help with some sort of project. Beardsworth was thrilled, and thought The Garden Project could be perfect for the boys. In addition, she had several companies, groups and individuals who wanted to donate time, talent and plants, so the task to create a real, permanent garden began.

Gretchen Patterson and Mandy Barber, SASO co-chairs for the project, managed the scheduling of teams each week. Fairfield businesses also jumped in to help with the garden as well as the entire grounds. Home Depot, as part of its veterans program, helped secure a grant to fund items that were needed and installed new garden beds. Oliver’s Nursery donated plants and materials and Stopa Landscaping donated design time, labor, and soil. SASO worked alongside the residents to weed the beds, plant new seedlings, and harvest the fruits and vegetables. Beardsworth was overwhelmed with the support and dedication that the group gave to the garden.

“Not only did they come weekly to work on the garden but they also prepared and served meals to our residents,” says Beardsworth. “The SASO boys were key in maintaining a consistency for the garden. Before their arrival, watering and planting was spotty. But they took over the watering and tending—which made the garden more productive.” The residents were thrilled to work side by side with the boys and “get their hands dirty.” 

Planting something and then having faith that it will bear fruit couldn’t be a better metaphor for a place like Homes for the Brave. It turns out that these are perfect ingredients for a powerhouse of optimism. And, for the Fairfield volunteers, serving those who have served our nation, turns out to be its own kind of special harvest.

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View map »


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View map »


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More information

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Cost: Free

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Cost: Members and students with ID free. $10-$25

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Website »

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The Housatonic Museum of Art presents a new exhibition, “Drip Drop, Tick Tock” by regional artist, Joseph Fucigna. The show focuses on sculptures from the on-going Plastic Fencing...

Cost: Free

Where:
Housantonic Community College
900 Lafayette Blvd.
Bridgeport, CT  06604
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Telephone: 120-333-25052
Contact Name: Robin Zella

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Join us while we hunt for the East Coast's best Dance Crew. Watch as crews for all ethnic backgrounds and styles of dance come together to compete for title of The Best Dance Crew! Hip Hop,...

Cost: Pre Sale $25.00 Day of Show $30.00

Where:
Wall Street Theater
Wall Street
Norwalk, CT  06850
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Sponsor: Wall Street Theater
Telephone: 877-987-8764
Contact Name: Jeanne Moore
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On June 23, the Bruce Museum in Greenwich opens Expressionism in Print: The Early Works of Richard Haas, 1957 - 64 in the Arcade Gallery. The exhibition will be on display through October 21, 2018....

Cost: Free for members; $10 for non-members; $8 for seniors and students with ID

Where:
Bruce Museum
1 Museum Drive
Greenwich, CT  06830
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Telephone: 203-413-6735
Contact Name: Scott Smith
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Open during regular Library hours Paradise [Lost] features a collection of color photographs by Árpád Krizsán, Best in Show winner of Pequot Library's 2017 Art Show....

Cost: Free and open to the public.

Where:
Pequot Library
720 Pequot Avenue
Southport, CT  06890
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Sponsor: Pequot Library
Telephone: 203-259-0346
Contact Name: Pequot Library
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Nature is on display in “A Reverence For Nature” with pieces that reflect the artists’ admiration of nature or the environment in a multitude of ways. Exhibiting artists include...

Cost: Free

Where:
Maritime Garage Gallery
11 North Water Street
Norwalk, CT  06854
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Sponsor: Norwalk Parking Authority
Telephone: 203-831-9063
Contact Name: Nadia Martinez
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Heather Gaudio Fine Artis pleased to present “Top of the Hill: New Paintings,” a solo exhibition featuring new work by Brian Rutenberg. The show will open with a reception for...

Cost: Free

Where:
Heather Gaudio Fine Art
66 Elm Street
New Canaan, CT  06840
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Sponsor: Heather Gaudio Fine Art
Telephone: 203-801-9590
Contact Name: Rachael Palacios
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Francisco Fullana, Violin Soloist Join us for three masterpieces representing important moments in time for orchestral music.  Arvo...

Cost: $50; $37.50, $25, Students $10

Where:
Norwalk Concert Hall
125 East Avenue
NORWALK, CT  06855
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Sponsor: Norwalk Symphony Orchestra
Telephone: 203-956-6771
Contact Name: Sandra Miklave, Executive Director
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On August 18, 2018, the Bruce Museum will open A Continuous Thread: Navajo Weaving Traditions. This exhibition will trace the history of the Navajo weaving tradition from the earliest...

Where:
Bruce Museum
1 Museum Dr
Greenwich, CT  06830
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Sponsor: Bruce Museum
Telephone: 203-413-6735
Contact Name: Scott Smith
Website »

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ReTooled: Highlights from the Hechinger Collection, an engaging and thought-provoking look at the unexpected subject of tools, will be on view at the Bruce Museum in Greenwich, CT, from September...

Cost: Members and students with ID free. $10-$25

Where:
Bruce Museum
1 Museum Dr
Greenwich, CT  06830
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Sponsor: Bruce Museum
Telephone: 2034136735
Contact Name: Scott Smith
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A series of graphic novel-style panels designed by illustrator Kirk Manley tells the dramatic story of the spy ring that operated between New York City, Long Island, and Fairfield during the...

Cost: Members: Free; Adults: $5; Seniors & Students: $3; children 5 and under: Free.

Where:
Fairfield Museum
370 Beach Rd
Fairfield, CT  06824
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In this key moment in our national history and the struggle for women’s equality and freedom of expression, the Fairfield Museum’s exhibition “Flappers: Fashion and...

Cost: Free

Where:
Fairfield Museum and History Center
370 Beach Road
Fairfield, CT  06824
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Website »

More information

The Housatonic Museum of Art presents a new exhibition, “Drip Drop, Tick Tock” by regional artist, Joseph Fucigna. The show focuses on sculptures from the on-going Plastic Fencing...

Cost: Free

Where:
Housantonic Community College
900 Lafayette Blvd.
Bridgeport, CT  06604
View map »


Telephone: 120-333-25052
Contact Name: Robin Zella

More information

On June 23, the Bruce Museum in Greenwich opens Expressionism in Print: The Early Works of Richard Haas, 1957 - 64 in the Arcade Gallery. The exhibition will be on display through October 21, 2018....

Cost: Free for members; $10 for non-members; $8 for seniors and students with ID

Where:
Bruce Museum
1 Museum Drive
Greenwich, CT  06830
View map »


Telephone: 203-413-6735
Contact Name: Scott Smith
Website »

More information

Formed in 1963 in Stamford, CT, The Fifth Estate was a central part of the garage rock movement. Remember NBC's 'Hullabaloo'? They performed their crackin' song 'I Just...

Cost: $28

Where:
Fairfield Theatre Company at StageOne
70 Sanford Street
Fairfield, CT  06824
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Website »

More information

Open during regular Library hours Paradise [Lost] features a collection of color photographs by Árpád Krizsán, Best in Show winner of Pequot Library's 2017 Art Show....

Cost: Free and open to the public.

Where:
Pequot Library
720 Pequot Avenue
Southport, CT  06890
View map »


Sponsor: Pequot Library
Telephone: 203-259-0346
Contact Name: Pequot Library
Website »

More information

Heather Gaudio Fine Artis pleased to present “Top of the Hill: New Paintings,” a solo exhibition featuring new work by Brian Rutenberg. The show will open with a reception for...

Cost: Free

Where:
Heather Gaudio Fine Art
66 Elm Street
New Canaan, CT  06840
View map »


Sponsor: Heather Gaudio Fine Art
Telephone: 203-801-9590
Contact Name: Rachael Palacios
Website »

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Evocation of light is ever present in the romantic and experiential landscapes of Ira Barkoff. His recent works convey the spontaneity and the maturity of the artist’s hand and dedication to...

Cost: Free

Where:
Canfin Gallery
39 Main Street
Tarrytown, NY  10591
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Sponsor: 1953
Telephone: 914-332-4554
Contact Name: Jean-Claude Canfin
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Francisco Fullana, Violin Soloist Join us for three masterpieces representing important moments in time for orchestral music.  Arvo...

Cost: $50; $37.50, $25, Students $10

Where:
Norwalk Concert Hall
125 East Avenue
NORWALK, CT  06855
View map »


Sponsor: Norwalk Symphony Orchestra
Telephone: 203-956-6771
Contact Name: Sandra Miklave, Executive Director
Website »

More information

On August 18, 2018, the Bruce Museum will open A Continuous Thread: Navajo Weaving Traditions. This exhibition will trace the history of the Navajo weaving tradition from the earliest...

Where:
Bruce Museum
1 Museum Dr
Greenwich, CT  06830
View map »


Sponsor: Bruce Museum
Telephone: 203-413-6735
Contact Name: Scott Smith
Website »

More information

Laura from Olive My Skin will be joining us to talk about her lovely natural soaps, wood wick soy candles and skin care line, all proudly made in Connecticut. All Fair Trade, paraben free,...

Cost: free

Where:
The Smithy
10 Main Street
New Preston, CT  06777
View map »


Sponsor: The Smithy
Telephone: (860)868-9003
Contact Name: susan
Website »

More information

ReTooled: Highlights from the Hechinger Collection, an engaging and thought-provoking look at the unexpected subject of tools, will be on view at the Bruce Museum in Greenwich, CT, from September...

Cost: Members and students with ID free. $10-$25

Where:
Bruce Museum
1 Museum Dr
Greenwich, CT  06830
View map »


Sponsor: Bruce Museum
Telephone: 2034136735
Contact Name: Scott Smith
Website »

More information

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