Legacy Center constructs garden for Ronald McDonald House

Aug. 24, 2014 @ 05:46 PM

Jacqueline Thomas had two weeks to raise money to build a Serenity Garden at the Ronald McDonald House in Durham.

She also had to have the community complete 75 percent of the work and finish the garden in one weekend.
Thomas, a resident of Durham, is part of the Legacy Center Leadership’s NC149 program, which completed building a Serenity Garden and other upgrades to the Ronald McDonald House throughout the weekend at an estimated cost of $25,000.
“We live our word,” said Kaye Randall, an instructor for the Chapel Hill-based Legacy Center, which provides workshops for professional and leadership development. “If we say it’s going to happen, it’s going to happen.”
Enrollees in the three-month program must completely design a program from start to finish that will leave a lasting impact in the community and cannot raise money to complete the project until two weeks before the project’s construction begins, Randall said.
She said donations have been coming from all over to complete the garden, from Maryland down to South Carolina.
Toward the end of construction Sunday, Thomas gathered around with members of the Legacy Center and Ronald McDonald House, all of whom began crying and hugging.
“When I came in to the (Ronald McDonald House,) I felt the love, the warmth,” Thomas said. “(And) the openness and healing that this house brings to these families.”
Some 30 volunteers began construction for the garden on Friday around noon and worked late into the night Friday and Saturday, said Nancy Jones, director of development at communications at the Ronald McDonald House.
The house, which has provided meals, housing and entertainment to families of seriously ill children for 34 years, expanded two years ago from 29 to 55 bedrooms, Jones said.
About a year ago, volunteers at the house developed a vision for a garden at the house and Jones said the Legacy Center has made that vision a reality.
“(This) was really just access to a parking lot,” Jones said, pointing at the space of the Serenity Garden, which now houses a variety of ferns and other plants, a two-story sculpture donated by artist Guy Solie and a structure with flowing water.
The newly constructed garden continues around the front of the house with more plants, a renovated gazebo and a walkway.
“It’s really going to enhance the experience of the children and families staying here,” Jones said.
Randall said the projects’ guidelines are intended to put pressure on the program’s enrollees and can sometimes cause skepticism in terms of the timeframe to complete projects.
“The lump of coal when it’s pressure, pressure, pressure, then, a diamond,” Randall said. “That’s what this is.”