In a year as bad as 2021, many of us will take any glimmer of positive we can get. There's a lot of good out there, but sometimes it gets lost amidst all the negativity and discord. So, when a positive event like the one happening on Friday morning, October 29th comes to one's attention, you want to share it with everyone.

A team from Lowe's in Portage will be building eight raised-bed garden boxes and installing fencing, constructing a therapy garden for the homeless veterans living at Keystone Veteran Transitional House on Stockbridge Avenue. The Lowe's manager, Jim Merkle, is a Marine Corp veteran himself who helped design the garden, and is leading the effort.

“A lot of the Vets enjoy gardening; it’s truly therapeutic during a very stressful time in their lives,” says Tyrone Thrash, the Housing Coordinator for the Keystone Veteran Transitional House.

Here's a little background: The Keystone Veteran Transitional House is a 12-bed shelter for homeless military service veterans in Kalamazoo. Integrated Services of Kalamazoo opened Keystone Veteran Transitional House in the summer of last year. What Integrated Services does is connect these veterans with resources, like housing and also health care with the Battle Creek VA.

A lot of this relates to PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder). ISK’s Veteran Navigator Juan Gonzalez says experience shows horticultural therapy can help veterans.

“According to research, horticultural therapy helps with the mitigation of PTSD, traumatic brain injury, depression, and other mental health problems. Other benefits of gardening therapy include stress reduction, improved attention, and improved individual and group goal-setting, as well as the positive impact of being outside in the fresh air." - Juan Gonzalez, ISK.

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