While special needs children have opportunities in the school systems to foster and grow, a void in public services faces them as adults once they tap out of the system at age 22. Since 2008, the nonprofit Murray Greenhouse Foundation (6366 S. 900 East) provides intellectually disabled young adults a safe place to learn independence and life skills and have a social outlet.
Students and volunteers at the Murray Greenhouse. (Photo courtesy Jerry Summerhays / www.murrayjournal.com)
“We wanted to create a safe, nurturing environment for our children to socialize and continue learning,” said Sheila Wall, president and director of the Foundation. “Our students range from wheelchair-bound individuals requiring assistance at most tasks to high functioning individuals who require very little assistance.”
The Murray Rotary Club is pitching in to help the school and inviting all Murray residents to join in. The Rotarians are sponsoring a fall cleanup Saturday, Sept. 20, 9-11 a.m. Interested volunteers can go to JustServe.org to get more details about the event.
“Murray Rotarians have long been supporters of the Murray Greenhouse Foundation,” Murray Rotarian Jerry Summerhays said. “The Murray Rotary Club is organizing the fall cleanup of the greenhouse, the outside grow boxes, and the property surrounding the home. Much help is needed. Please come as a group, a family or individually.”
In 2008, parents of several young adults facing intellectual challenges bought a small house with an adjacent greenhouse. The adjacent greenhouse has provided work and continuing education for the young adults and income for the nonprofit.
Murray City has been ordering flowers from the Murray Greenhouse Foundation since 2017 for use throughout the city. “The quality of their product is superior,” said Polly Holyoak, Murray City Parks gardener. “It’s such a pleasure to hear comments from park patrons as they enjoy our gardens. We graciously accept the praise, but the greenhouse’s beautiful flowers speak for themselves.”
The students attend Monday-Friday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., with 19 students three days a week and 14 students the other two days. They have classes and activities. There is a daily theme and a personal goal program. Earning “Greenhouse Dollars” teaches students what it feels like to make money when they work and how to count, save, and spend money buying things from their small store.
The student fees paid by parents go toward the salaries of the five teachers. The profit from the greenhouse plants and donations cover many other expenses, from food to teaching materials. Residents can buy vegetables and plants from the Murray Greenhouse. Also, the foundation depends on donations of supplies, groceries and monetary donations.
Volunteers are needed to help the staff assist the students in the greenhouse or teach a class such as cooking, life skills or community awareness. They can also host a birthday party or a movie.
“We feel fortunate when we have volunteers come and give service. Volunteers are essential to our program. They bring helping hands, lift the load of others, and cause a smile to their faces,” board member Diane Poulsen said.
To read the complete article, go to www.murrayjournal.com.