Palatine family honored for volunteer work at community garden
Santiago Reyes, a first-grader at Stuart R. Paddock Elementary School in Palatine, didn't hesitate when asked why he enjoys volunteering at a community garden in his hometown.
"I like to help people," he said.
Santiago, his sisters Sofia and Jackie, and mom Rocio Castro, all were honored recently by the Palatine Township Elementary District 15 school board for being star volunteers at the community garden.
Located next to the Palatine Fire Department's Hicks Road station, Roots Garden has been a Partners for Our Communities program for six years.
The garden, a collaboration between the fire department, Palatine Park District, local schools and churches, Northwest Community Hospital, Harper College and more, produces an average 120 servings of vegetables per week during the growing season for Partners for Our Communities clients. POC provides a plethora of services to local families in need, including health, wellness, adult literacy and youth development programs.
"The thing I liked most about the garden was to water the plants and watch them grow and then pick the food," said Sofia, a fourth-grader at Paddock Elementary who gave sunflowers from the garden to school board members and District 15 Superintendent Laurie Heinz.
Partners for Our Communities Executive Director Kathy Millin said the community garden growing season, which just ended, typically starts in May. Millin said the Reyes children and Castro stood out by showing up for nearly all opportunities to help tend the garden, which involves up to 25 volunteers nightly.
"It's hard work," Millin said.
By participating in Roots Garden, POC clients have access to healthy food while helping build a stronger, connected community. Partners for Our Communities serves clients in Palatine, Hoffman Estates and Rolling Meadows.
A retired Palatine fire battalion chief approached Partners for Our Communities with his idea to start the garden on the eighth of an acre next to the Hicks Road station.