The warm weekend sun shines on Morgan Hildula and Julia Nacario as they dig into a fresh pile of dirt. They prep the ground ahead of planting seeds they hope will brighten the lives of those who call the space home.
Since July, the two seniors have spend their Sundays at the Jewish Home of San Francisco planting flowers and beautifying the home’s outdoor common area for residents. The pair started the gardening work as part of their Senior Culminating Service Project. Every senior is required to complete a community service project they plan and implement in partnership with a local non-profit.
The girls know a member of the Farkas Center at Mercy, which promotes Holocaust awareness and education, who recommended they start the garden at the Jewish Home. Their project came at a time of renovation and remodeling on its current building and grounds, which cleared the area where the garden was planted.
“The garden is in a bright spot and the space gets fresh air which is nice because residents will sit outside around the garden,” Morgan said. “We’ve been adding more boxes and planting flowers, so it’s a lot of maintenance work to keep adding and improving what we’ve already done.”
As members of the Women in Medicine group at Mercy, Morgan and Julia have studied the impact of outdoor living in healthcare.
“It’s been proven that being out in nature has a positive influence in people's lives, especially these older residents, and that’s great because this is who we’re helping,” Morgan said. “It’s a very serene space and it’s a great feeling to know that we’re supporting these residents and improving their lives with the garden.”
Progress continues as the girls spend a couple hours each weekend working to expand and improve the garden. They are seeking donations of flowers, soil, plant boxes, and other gardening essentials so the garden can thrive and be passed along to rising seniors at Mercy.
“It’s a very sweet and chill community and we’re always meeting residents who come out to say ‘Hi’ and see what we’re doing” Julia said. “We’ve done a lot of things to improve the garden for them and we’re always looking for help and we hope that this can become a space for other students at Mercy as they look for community service projects.”