Healing garden in Hoffman Estates continues to grow thanks to volunteers

Healing garden in Hoffman Estates continues to grow thanks to volunteers

  • Eagle Scout candidate Logan Searle of Hoffman Estates works with Scouts from Boy Scout Troop 297 to secure one of the posts.

    Eagle Scout candidate Logan Searle of Hoffman Estates works with Scouts from Boy Scout Troop 297 to secure one of the posts. Courtesy of Eileen Higginbotham

 
By Eileen O. Daday
Daily Herald correspondent
Posted11/19/2019 6:00 AM

Three years after members of the Rotary Club of Schaumburg-Hoffman Estates established a garden to comfort children who have experienced trauma, their efforts continue to grow.

They call it a healing garden and located it behind the Children's Advocacy Center in Hoffman Estates. This year they added a moon gate at its entrance, and last month they enhanced the area with more features.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

The garden was designed to feature flowering plants, herbs and shrubs around a brick-paved courtyard, with limestone seating walls, all laid out in the shape of a butterfly.

This summer, its array of coneflowers, hydrangea, Russian sage and yarrow all thrived, providing the prime environment for butterflies.

Monarchs came out in record number to the healing garden this summer.
Monarchs came out in record number to the healing garden this summer. - Courtesy of Fern Furst

"There were so many butterflies here this summer," said Fern Furst of Schaumburg, one of the garden's volunteers. "It's been a joy to watch."

Eileen Higginbotham serves as community service director for the Rotary Club and is one of the driving forces behind the garden.

"The garden has grown in many ways," she says, "not only in the scope of what we originally planted, but in the partnerships that have developed with local companies, the village and organizations that believe in the mission of the CAC."

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Recently, Rotarians partnered with several of those community organizations to build two pergolas in the garden in order to provide shade during the summer months.

Volunteer Peter Arno, in blue shirt, works with Rotarians to drill in one of the rafters for the pergola going up at the healing garden behind the Children's Advocacy Center.
Volunteer Peter Arno, in blue shirt, works with Rotarians to drill in one of the rafters for the pergola going up at the healing garden behind the Children's Advocacy Center. - Courtesy of Eileen Higginbotham

Members of Boy Scout Troop 297, led by Eagle Scout candidate Logan Searle of Hoffman Estates, worked the first day. They poured cement in the post holes and cut the wood before raising the roof of the first pergola.

"This has been a huge project for the whole community," Logan said. "We're just doing our part to make the garden even better."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

The next day, Rotarians themselves rolled up their sleeves to raise the second pergola. Leading up to the work day, they obtained permits from the village of Hoffman Estates, donated materials from Home Depot and engineering input from staff members of the Hyatt Regency Schaumburg.

Both pergolas are eight feet tall and stretch long enough to accommodate a picnic table and benches underneath.

Members of the Rotary Club of Schaumburg-Hoffman Estates established the Healing Butterfly Garden three years ago and they continue to make improvements.
Members of the Rotary Club of Schaumburg-Hoffman Estates established the Healing Butterfly Garden three years ago and they continue to make improvements. - Courtesy of Fern Furst

"The garden is beautiful in the summer, but since it gets full sun it's not usable in the hot summer months of July and August," Higginbotham says. "We wanted to extend its use."

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 this year interviewed more than 800 children, or twice as many as when the garden first was established three years ago.

Mark Parr, executive director of the Children's Advocacy Center, says those numbers are a bit deceiving, since they now also interview children who have witnessed abuse, such as domestic abuse in the home.

A caterpillar makes its way along one of the host plants in the healing garden at the Children's Advocacy Center in Hoffman Estates.
A caterpillar makes its way along one of the host plants in the healing garden at the Children's Advocacy Center in Hoffman Estates. - Courtesy of Fern Furst

No matter what the situation, the garden has served to draw children and therapists, as well as family members and staff seeking respite from the trauma they have experienced.

"The garden is a peaceful and calming place," says Mark Parr, executive director of the Children's Advocacy Center. "It's a nice addition to the whole environment we're trying to create here."

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