Credit unions and The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia joined with RealClearPolitics and the Democratic National Convention (DNC) Committee to open a Health and Wellness Garden at the Nicholas and Athena Karabots Pediatric Care Center in West Philadelphia Thursday at the DNC. CUNA and RealClearPolitics honored the DNC by taking on the project.
“Credit unions have been proudly conducting leave-behind projects in honor of the national party conventions since 2000 to leave a lasting impression on the communities like Philadelphia that have opened their doors to national nominating conventions,” said Rich Meade, CUNA’s chief of staff/chief operating officer. “This meaningful work, bringing a health and wellness garden to a community in need, will continue to serve its purpose and impact the lives of children and their families for years to come.”
The garden was created in partnership with America’s Credit Unions and Credit Unions for Kids, and will serve as a resource for patient and community engagement programs that aim to support education and hands-on activities around gardening and healthy nutrition.
“This project embodies the credit union philosophy of people-helping-people,” said Patrick Conway, president/CEO of the Pennsylvania Credit Union Association (PCUA). “Rather than holding a big party or event, credit unions have chosen to fund this Health and Wellness Garden that will have a positive impact in this community for many years to come.”
PCUA spearheaded fundraising by credit unions and raised more than its target goal of $300,000, the amount needed to cover the costs of the project.
Edward G. Rendell, former Governor of Pennsylvania and chair of the Philadelphia 2016 Host Committee for the DNC, was on hand at the dedication.
“Each presidential election cycle, we ask a great deal of the communities with which we partner to host our wonderful and vibrant, but resource-consuming Democratic National Conventions,” said Rendell. "It is the least we can do to erect a meaningful and tangible ‘Thank you’ by building projects such as these; projects that will continue to support their communities long after the conventions leave town.
“Because of a partnership between the DNC Committee, the Credit Union National Association, the Pennsylvania Credit Union Association, RealClearPolitics and, of course, the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, this community will forever have a resource that will both augment patient care and enrich the lives of community members. This garden is a symbol of our appreciation,” he added.
A construction kick-off and multiple volunteer days took place earlier this year to help transform an open space into the garden. Hundreds of volunteers helped create about 1,200 feet of raised beds of squash, kale, cucumbers, sweet peppers, herbs, eggplant, sweet potatoes and multiple varieties of lettuce and tomatoes.
Volunteers also planted an orchard in the garden, which will produce apples and other fruits.
Much of the produce from the garden will be donated to Early Head Start, a program that serves families with children 3 years of age and under, in two specific ZIP codes of Philadelphia that are at or below the federal poverty line.
CUNA, credit unions in Ohio and RealClearPolitics also worked with the Republican National Convention on a companion project and hosted a ribbon cutting for a horticultural therapy suite at UH Rainbow Babies & Children’s Hospital in Cleveland last week.