By Kathy Hubbard
It’s time to sing the praises of an unsung hero. The first time I met Linda Plaster was when I was working as the Ad Director at the Daily Bee. She shook my hand and then apologized for the fact that hers was dirty. Dirty? Oh yeah. Muddy to be truthful.
“I stopped by the Healing Garden on my way over here and found some weeds,” she said. “And, I had to pull them, didn’t I?” Of course she did. And, of course I gave her the free advertising she had come to solicit.
In this month’s employee newsletter Bonner General Health’s CEO, Sheryl Rickard, extolled the virtues of this woman who made the idea of creating a garden that would become a respite for patients, families of patients, hospital staff and the community a reality.
“Linda was involved in the Healing Garden from the very beginning,” Rickard wrote. “She was on the original committee that designed and built the garden in 2003. Since then Linda has served as the Healing Garden Committee Chairman (the committee members call themselves the Dirty Dozen) and has worked thousands of hours on her hands and knees planting and weeding.”
It’s not just the back bending gardening that sets Plaster apart. It was her ability to raise over $150,000 to create this ideal place for meditation and solace. In 2010, Plaster was honored as a Woman of Wisdom.
In her nomination letter to the Women Honoring Women Committee, Debra Heise wrote, “, “I would characterize her involvement as the glue that holds the committee together and makes their projects successful. She has been involved in all aspects of the committee including fundraising, keeping the grounds, planting the flowers, cleaning up after vandalism. She has put countless hours into the success of The Healing Garden, which is undisputedly a highlight of our community.”
Of course, the work didn’t end with the Healing Garden’s creation. Plaster has led the charge to make certain that the garden is maintained up to her exacting standards.
“The fundraisers have been successful in generating enough money each year to pay for all of the new plants, gardening supplies, maintenance and repairs, and general upkeep to ensure that the garden stays beautiful and well-maintained,” Rickard wrote. “The average annual cost of maintaining the garden is $10,000.
“Because of the hard work of the committee, led by Linda, that cost is covered entirely by donations and fundraisers. The fundraisers that Linda devotes the most time and effort to are the Christmas Home Tour, Spring for the Garden, and raffles. Over the last five years, these fundraisers alone have generated over $20,000.
“Linda is also instrumental in getting donations from individuals and organizations. We receive these donations because of Linda’s passion for the garden. She asks for money and people respond because she eloquently communicates the incredible value that the Healing Garden has brought to the hospital and the community.”
Amen to that! Take a walk (well, I really recommend waiting until spring) through the garden and you’ll see how thoughtfully it was planned. Stroll the paths bordered by beautiful plants, pass the fountain surrounded by gorgeous flowers and stop into the small chapel tucked in the corner and you’ll get the sense of the serenity and spirituality that Plaster had in mind.
“Our Healing Garden is visited by hundreds of people every year. The words that I hear people use to describe the garden are natural, beautiful, calming, balanced, quiet, provides a sense of peace and tranquility, promotes a sense of wellbeing, reduces anxiety and sadness, uplifting, and a beautiful gift to our community,” Rickard wrote.
“Linda Plaster is truly a blessing to our community. I can never thank her enough for her passion and generosity. Linda has made a lasting impact and has changed this community for the better in so many ways. Thank you, Linda!”
I’ll second that motion! Thank you Linda Plaster for achieving the dream to give us all such a special place.
Kathy Hubbard is a member of Bonner General Health Foundation Advisory Council. She can be reached at 264-4029 or firstname.lastname@example.org.