Garden of Hope comes to Green Bay

New Community Shelter’s dream to make an environmentally-friendly park in downtown Green Bay will soon be a reality thanks to a partnership with Leadership Green Bay.

The space, located at 301 Mather St., is an adjacent lot on the corner of North Broadway and Mather streets, which became available for purchase during the expansion project.

New Community Shelter purchased the space in 2010.As development on the project began to form, plans were put on hold until funds could be secured. Almost 90 percent of all New Community Shelter funding comes from the community, and no city or taxpayer dollars support the shelter.

Recently, a group from the Leadership Green Bay program met with different area nonprofit organizations to find a partner for a community service project.

Dan Terrio, youth development manager for the Green Bay Area Chamber of Commerce, said the group thought the New Community Shelter’s idea to create the Garden of Hope was something that would benefit both the shelter and the community as a whole.

Terrio, a member of the Leadership Green Bay class of 2013, is a 2012 graduate of UW-Green Bay with a bachelor’s degree in communication. He’s also a current master’s degree candidate in the applied leadership for teaching and learning program.

“When we met with New Community Shelter, we became immersed in the work they do in the community,” Terrio said. “We decided the park was the route to go, and we took it on as our group project.”

Leadership Green Bay is a program of the Green Bay Area Chamber of Commerce. Since it began, more than 900 middle-to-upper-level management members have graduated from the program. The mission of Leadership Green Bay is to develop and foster leaders by providing education about local community strengths and opportunities and to encourage community stewardship.

“The New Community Shelter is excited to be the beneficiary of a Leadership Green Bay group project,” said Terri Refsguard, executive director at the New Community Shelter. “This will be a wonderful complement to our focus and priority first and foremost: helping adults experiencing homelessness and providing meals to children and adults who are hungry.”

New Community Shelter Director of Development Kris Olson said the organization is thrilled to be associated with members of Leadership Green Bay.

“Leadership Green Bay is certainly leaving a permanent footprint and a lasting impression on this organization and the community,” Olson said. “The group has enhanced our plan to include things we hadn’t originally thought about.”

The park will include amenities like benches, flower beds, trees, green space, seven raised gardens, a green shed for storage of gardening supplies and a meditation circle for group meetings, classes and counseling services.

It will be open to the public and will also include lighting and cameras for security purposes.

“When a resident is in a room with seven people, they need a neutral place where they can go and clear their head and also dream,” Terrio said. “The Garden of Hope can provide this.”

The park will also include vegetable gardens that residents will have the opportunity to maintain.

Olson said the food could be used in the shelter’s community meal program, which has served more than 116,000 meals to children and adults from the community who otherwise would have gone without food.

“Our mission is to provide homeless adults housing, food and professional supportive services necessary to become self-sufficient,” Olson said. “And we feed children and adults from throughout the community who are hungry and would otherwise not have the means to eat.”

Olson said nonprofit organizations in the community are working hard to raise funds. raising money for the park has been more challenging when the economy is not doing well and the cost of gas and other goods is higher, Olson said.

“For the New Community Shelter, that’s when even more people need our help,” Olson said. “So raising money to keep our 24/7/365 organization running can be a challenge.”

Raising money to pay for the park’s amenities has officially started.

Sponsorship options range from a $500 option that will allow donors to have their name on a plaque to a $100,000 option that will give a donor park-naming rights. Various other donation options are also available.