Volunteers help keep gardens immaculate at Warrior and Family Support Center
April 26, 2013
JBSA-FORT SAM HOUSTON (April 26, 2013) -- The Warrior and Family Support Center, built in 2008, offers wounded warriors and their families a home-away-from-home between the rigors of their recovery process.
The 12,500-square-foot facility, with more than 12 acres of grounds, is completely funded by private donations. The extensive gardens, water features and recreation areas require daily care to maintain their pristine ambience.
Even though the center recently hired John Carter as a full-time gardener, a group of dedicated volunteers has done the lion's share of the work for more than four years.
Melody McMahon, a Texas master gardener, was the first to volunteer to work on the gardens at the center.
About 12 volunteers regularly come to the center Tuesday mornings, rain or shine, to lend a helping hand. Most of them are Texas master gardeners and members of the Gardening Volunteers of South Texas.
"The WFSC gardens have been approved as the master gardening project," McMahon explained. Participants must complete a training course and 50 hours volunteer service within one year to earn the title of "Texas master gardener."
"Melody and I really work together to decide what needs to be done," Carter said. "Without the volunteers, there is no way I could get all my work done. It would be impossible. We could really use more volunteers."
"One good thing is the community loves to help. We get a lot of big groups that volunteer," McMahon said. "You don't have to be a master gardener to volunteer."
The WFSC relies on donations from nurseries and private organizations to replace plants and keep the gardens looking their best.
For example, John Thomas, founder and president of Wildseed Farms in Fredericksburg, and his son came to the center last fall and planted several wildflowers.
Many of the donated plants come with a story.
The climbing rose growing on the arbor at the entrance to the walkway is called the Peggy Martin Rose, or Katrina Rose, because the rose survived Hurricane Katrina, explained McMahon.
The gardens feature many varieties of plants and trees.
Volunteers Lynda Klein and Margie Larkin recently started a vegetable garden.
"It used to be a children's garden," Klein said. "Now, we have made it like a real garden."
The gardeners have planted herbs, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, carrots, celery, peppers, cabbage, lettuce and spinach. They are transitioning the garden to get ready for spring planting.
"The ladies who work in the kitchen use the vegetables to make salads and salsa," Larkin said proudly.
Groups or individuals who want to volunteer in the gardens can call the volunteer coordinator at 210-916-9656.