Landscapers have been working steadily over the last few weeks, transforming the area behind the Children's Advocacy Center in Hoffman Estates into a vibrant butterfly garden.
Flowering plants, shrubs and trees all surround brick pavers, set off by limestone seating walls laid out in the shape of a butterfly.
The garden is the latest project shepherded by the Rotary Club of Schaumburg-Hoffman Estates. Its members have supported the Children's Advocacy Center for years, but seeing the garden take flight took their support to a whole new level.
"We're a service organization," says Eileen Higginbotham, community service director for the club. "We're not just about writing checks; we make things happen."
The Children's Advocacy Center offers a safe place for abused children. Services include sensitive interviewing as well as advocacy and trauma-focused therapy. The center serves 38 communities in the North and Northwest suburbs, and last year interviewed more than 400 children.
Mark Parr, executive director, said he hopes the garden will provide a safe, contemplative space for children and families who come to the center following reports of abuse and violence.
"We envision the garden as a place where children and families -- and staff members -- can find some respite from the effects trauma may have on one's thoughts and feelings.
"Since the garden is a place of growth, both literally and figuratively," Parr adds, "we anticipate our therapists may also use the space to help children open up and discuss their experiences and feelings, and learn ways to heal and grow."
Growing the garden project itself has proved to be a heartwarming experience for everyone involved. Right from the start, when people approached board members with the village of Hoffman Estates, which owns the property, everyone welcomed the Rotarians with open arms.
Irv Schultz of John Irvin Landscaping in Palatine donated his services, and he was able to draw most of his vendors to donate their goods and services for the success of the garden.
"I've been in business for 34 years and I've never seen anything like this," said Schultz. "It made me feel good to see so many people open their hearts."
Higginbotham agrees, and adds that because of such generosity, what would have cost nearly $75,000 will end up costing the Rotary Club less than $15,000.
"Everybody we've approached has wanted to be part of it," Higginbotham says.
The garden offers ways to keep on giving. Supporters can purchase a brick and have it personalized as a way to pave the way to healing, one brick at a time, say CAC officials. To help, visit: www.cachelps.org/support-the-cac-healing-garden.
The healing garden is just one of multiple projects undertaken by Rotarians this year. Last month, club members handed out more than $150,000 in grants for various causes, says member Nanette Sowa of Arlington Heights.
Money went to scholarships for nontraditional Harper College students; to students at Schaumburg, Conant and Hoffman Estates high schools; to an accessible bus for Northwest Special Recreation Association participants; and to a bus for homeless clients served by Journeys: The Road Home in Palatine.
Jean Schlinkmann, retired director of the Schaumburg Park District and a past Rotary Club president, says seeing the garden blossom is typical of the fruits of Rotary efforts.
"It just takes one member with a vision," Schlinkmann says, "who shares that vision and finds companies and generous community members to create something for a great cause."