She credits the Community Connection garden as her source of inspiration and joy.
As an active participant in therapy, Lisa has spent a lifetime working to cope with the crippling depression, suicidal thoughts and PTSD symptoms brought on by a traumatic childhood. Despite persistent physical pain from spinal fusion surgery, a separated shoulder and golfer’s elbow, Lisa comes to Community Connection every day and volunteers in the garden and as a mental health group leader. When asked if it’s hard to garden when she’s in so much pain, Lisa insists that it’s healing her.
“It’s more than beneficial, its a cure for my mental and physical ailments,” states Lisa.
Lisa reluctantly started coming to Community Connection in 2012 after years of attending other mental health programs in the county. Mental health stigma kept her at arms length for years, but when she finally checked out our groups and started regularly attending, she was shocked at how effective the program was.
“Community Connection offered me the opportunity to recover, and I grabbed onto it. Every single day I learn a new coping skill. I thought, hey! I can get well,” she says smiling wide.
“I am a scientifically-minded person and this program is evidence-based, it really works. Here, I was able to be with a group of people who were struggling like me. These people are my family now,” continues Lisa.
Lisa is referring to the group of participants she volunteers with almost every day in the Opportunity Connection outpatient mental health program at Community Connection. Lisa serves as an inspirational role model to her peers in the program. She openly talks about her own struggles, successes and coping skills.
“I admire this group of people more than I admire anyone. We are each on our own path,” states Lisa.
It’s clear that her peers admire her as well and looks to her as a leader.
Lisa’s path has led her to her passion for gardening and leadership. Lisa feels the garden at Community Connection has been an important source of strength. She is blissfully happy volunteering alongside her peers, nurturing and caring for their plants together.
Lisa got involved in the garden when Community Connection started a program called Beat Back Diabetes, now called Healthy Connections. It’s a whole-person healthy lifestyle program that promotes mental health through proper nutrition, exercise, gardening and wholesome living. Community Connection’s Max Bryer-Bass who we refer to as the “Garden Guru” introduced Lisa to gardening.
“I started noticing these minute bugs and all the beautiful colors. Max taught me to look under leaves and notice things. It opened up a completely new world for me,”states Lisa.
Lisa is the official waterer of the garden. She lovingly cares for the plants, often with her bearded dragon Savannah perched on her shoulder and sometimes her elderly & tiny chihuahua Lily by her side.
“The garden is a place to come for all who would like a sense of peace and calmness,” Lisa says. “I am here to give back, and if I can affect one person’s life with my story of wellness and recovery, then I will be so happy.”
“The garden is overwhelmingly beautiful to me. I did the succulent garden out here all by myself, and now its growing and thriving,” Lisa adds with immense pride.
“I touch and talk to all the plants. I feel like I have a special bond with this garden. I come out here and sit and listen to every sound. Its my mindful place and my sanctuary,” Lisa closes her eyes and breathes deep.
“Being in this garden, It’s like being rocked by your mother.”
Want to learn more about Healthy Connections and how you can participate? Reach out to us and we will help you get started.
Stay in the know about all of the programming with Community Connection by signing up for our Monthly E-News.Share this: