USO Humphreys Gardening Club blooming with success

USO Humphreys Gardening Club blooming with success

by Minnie E Tanner
USO Humphreys

USO Humphreys is dedicated to keeping service members connected to family, home and country. The past few months have been challenging, as COVID-19 has significantly affected the way the staff and volunteers interact with our patrons. Though faced with many obstacles, we remain focused on the needs and interests of our patrons, which is all-inclusive of our USAG-Humphreys’ community, and this remains our top priority.

Prior to the pandemic, USO Humphreys hosted many physical, in-person events; however, in the COVID-19 environment, we were challenged with engaging our patrons virtually. To maintain the quality of USO programs while adhering to new norms that emphasize social distancing, our staff and volunteers reimagined many programs and created others, such as the “USO Humphreys Gardening Club.”

The “virtual” gardening club bloomed from the creativity of our staff and volunteers. Since everyone was “Cooped Inside,” we wanted something truly beneficial for the entire family’s enjoyment. Our research concluded that gardening is great for physical activity, stress relief, health, and extremely therapeutic. The benefits of gardening proved to be a very positive means for our community to offset the challenges associated with a restrictive COVID-19 environment.

Initially, we celebrated Earth Day, on April 22, 2020, by hosting a gardening starter kit event. We handed out starter kits that included soil, seeds and a small pot to 60 members of our community.

Following that first event, there was so much community interest that we hosted a week-long Humphreys Gardening Club event during the first week of June 2020, for additional patrons to become gardening club members. USO Humphreys now has a total of 200 members in the club, a result much farther reaching than we expected! This illustrates the wide-ranging impact that this program has had on our community and the existing desire that military families retain for connection.

Gardening club members are very receptive to virtual participation.  Our volunteers have worked with staff to post how-to videos providing tips for building raised gardens and proper means to transplant seedlings into bigger pots.  Even greater, our garden club members update us by sending pictures and commenting via our Facebook page as their plants continue to grow.

To support expansion for gardening club members’ efforts, USO Humphreys has secured outdoor Garden plots through USAG Humphreys MWR that will accommodate approximately 28 members, as space is limited. We will host transplanting parties at the Garden plots behind building P1134 on the 7th and 28th of July 2020.

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