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St. Coletta’s adult participants ready to start gardening again

Jun 8, 2023

Volunteers from Baird & Warner prep overgrown garden bed for fresh start

Thanks to a group of hard-working volunteers, developmentally disabled individuals from St. Coletta’s of Illinois can dig in and start growing pumpkins for their annual Fall Fest celebration.


On June 7, six volunteers from Baird & Warner rolled up their sleeves and cleared weeds and roots from an overgrown garden bed at the Tinley Park campus, prepping it for pumpkin seeds and vegetable plants.


“St. Coletta’s mission is extremely important to our community,” said Baird & Warner Realtor Elaine Kindt, “and we feel it’s important to give back.”


For nearly two hours, Kindt and her colleagues from the Downers Grove office cleared a large garden bed on the south side of the building, tilling the soil and leveling it with a fresh layer of soil.


The bed, which once served as a fun, therapeutic and educational activity for St. Coletta’s adult participants, was neglected during the pandemic when schools, businesses and organizations were forced to shut down.


“It didn’t take long for the garden to become overgrown,” said St. Coletta’s Chief Operating Officer Heather Benedick. “When Covid hit, our Community Day Services participants and staff weren’t here to water the plants each day or keep up with the weeds.”


Lucky for St. Coletta’s, Baird & Warner has a determined group of volunteers who enjoy making a difference in their communities.


“I really enjoy (helping the community),” said Baird & Warner Realtor Cathy Mead who brought her 19-year-old son Zach to help with the cleanup effort at St. Coletta’s.


“Now that he’s grown, I’m looking for ways to give back to the community,” she said. “I have the time to help.”


The Baird & Warner volunteers have made St. Coletta’s one of their annual projects for a number of years now.


Last year, they cleared a garden bed on the opposite side of the building for students in St. Coletta’s therapeutic day school – the Lt. Joseph P. Kennedy Jr. School for Exceptional Children. They also beautified the entrance to St. Coletta’s by hanging baskets of colorful flowers along the walkway.


They did the same this year, hanging baskets of bright pink and purple petunias along the walkway. Afterward, they were treated to lunch made by Kennedy School’s culinary arts students who are currently attending summer school.


Kindt, who spearheads the Baird & Warner cleanup effort each year, is a member of St. Coletta’s Foundation Board of Directors.


“I am passionate about St. Coletta’s mission,” she said. “The work is important.”

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