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Lourdes College

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Safe Haven I - (Pictured L-R) Lourdes student Jenna Bosma, Safe Haven resident Margo Houston and Lourdes Professor Joy Lauerer tend the garden.

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Safe Haven opened its doors to residents in September of 2007 and ever since, nursing students at Lourdes College have been there to help.

Part of Neighborhood Properties, Inc. (NPI), Safe Haven offers chronically homeless persons living with mental illness and/or substance abuse a supportive and safe living space where they can recover and rebuild. Residents of Safe Haven receive ongoing treatment and recovery services and are taught the basic skills needed to become independent both emotionally and financially.

Lourdes nursing students have been an ongoing part of this process. Led by Assistant Professor Joy Lauerer, students in the Psychosocial Health Nursing course each semester engage residents in hands-on projects meant to build confidence and serve as a form of therapy.

Residents of Safe Haven have completed a variety of different projects including a community art piece as well as no-sew blankets but their most beloved task to date has been the plant it forward project.

In plant it forward, Lourdes nursing students help residents plant and grow a community garden. First begun in spring 2008, this was the second year for the garden. At the beginning of the project many of us were new to gardening, so we learned right alongside the residents, offers Joy. This helped us bond with one another and made it comfortable for the residents to talk about their personal struggles.

Even though plant it forward is designed to bring growth and confidence to residents, I feel that as a student I also benefitted, notes Lourdes nursing student Jenna Bosma. I gained confidence in my ability to help others grow and recover as a result of the time I have spent at Safe Haven.

For her continued work leading service projects at Lourdes College, NPI recently honored Joy as an outstanding volunteer. It s really about giving back, says Joy. Service to others is at the heart of Lourdes mission and we want to instill this value in our students. I am proud to be part of a community that encourages its members to get out there and really make a difference in the world.

Lourdes students have certainly made a difference at Safe Haven. I ve done things that I never thought I would do, offers Margo Houston. As a resident, I now serve on the board for NPI s Tenants Association, work as secretary for the Wernert Center for New Horizons and have volunteered at the Cherry Street Mission. I use the skills that I learn from projects such as plant it forward to help me succeed and grow personally. Lourdes students have helped me to do this and for that I am very thankful.

Learn more about Safe Haven and Neighborhood Properties Inc. by contacting Communications Manager Peg Morrison at pmorrison@neighborhoodproperties.org. Help others on the road to recovery and health by joining the Lourdes College School of Nursing at 419-517-8919.

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