On Tuesday, June 4, 2019, officials and residents of The Baltimore Station, community partners and benefactors gathered to celebrate the opening a community garden in Sandtown-Winchester neighborhood in West Baltimore.
The Baltimore Station is an organization that supports individuals dealing with homelessness and substance abuse issues by providing residential and community-based therapy programs.
Named “Ellie’s Garden,” after Eleanor Allen, mother of Melissa Smith, a longtime supporter of The Baltimore Station, the garden will provide green space for local residents and homeless veterans from The Baltimore Station.
Smith says her mother, Ellie, wanted to leave money to a cause that meant a lot to the family and, even though Ellie Smith wasn’t a gardener, she loved the community and she enjoyed giving back.
“This project has been in the works for years and we couldn’t be more pleased with the final result,” said Christie Walsh-Myers, president of the board of directors for The Baltimore Station. “We envision this green space as a haven not just for our residents, but for the greater community, including our friends at the Senior Center.”
ACell, which donated four benches; Brady Landscaping which provided donated landscaping services and a boulder circle; E2CR, which donated geotechnical and soil testing services; Floura Teeter, which provided the concept and garden design; M&T Bank, which donated flowers for the garden; Parks and People Foundation, which created the first vision of the garden space; P. Flanigan, which installed the pavement walkway; and the Society of American Military Engineers (SAME), which provided design consultation and vendor support; all were represented at the opening.
Stanley Black & Decker also has pledged to donate more than $1,000 in equipment that The Baltimore Station will use to maintain the garden including an electric mower, Weed Wacker and leaf blower.
Founded in 1987, The Baltimore Station has transformed over the years from a small group of devoted volunteers who assisted the homeless in South Baltimore to the nationally recognized therapeutic treatment program it is today. With 136 beds, The Baltimore Station provides homeless men— mostly veterans— with an opportunity to turn their lives around, according to the website.
The fee-less programs at The Baltimore Station provide structure, expectations and practical lessons to develop life skills that will transfer to the real world. Resources offered at The Baltimore Station also include health care, education, employment, job training and family reunification.
Officials believe the new garden will serve to help further their purpose. A journaling class and Tai Chi will also be among the activities that will take place in the garden.
“The garden is meant to be a place for peace and serenity for Baltimore residents and homeless veterans,” said Todd Troester, the community outreach manager for The Baltimore Station. “It will also be used for counseling sessions, art classes, meditation and other alternative therapeutic activities that are key to the residents’ recoveries.”
M&T Bank officials say their participation underscored the bank’s mission to live by its tagline, “Understanding what’s important.”
“We volunteer each month at The Baltimore Station and enjoy serving our Veterans. When our communities succeed, everyone’s lives get a little better,” said Natalie Arteen, assistant vice president and community events specialist at M&T Bank. “As such, our employees are dedicated to serving as strong community leaders, and were happy to help with The Baltimore Station’s latest project and enriching Ellie’s garden.”