At VOADV, our shelters provide 24-hour wraparound enriched services that go above and beyond the necessary and expected services for residents to build a strong foundation of life skills and to continue growing once living independently. These include case management, education and employment assistance, linkage to medical, mental and behavioral health care and much more but, we don’t stop there. Our innovative staff are always searching for meaningful programming and resources to enhance clients’ lives, and the Regan Center team recently developed an opportunity for residents to grow in special ways.
The Regan Center is VOADV’s 23-bed facility located on the Lakeland Campus in Blackwood, NJ. Comprised of 15 emergency shelter beds and 8 medical respite beds, the program is a valuable resource for men experiencing homelessness in Camden County. The Regan Center is located next to the Camden County Sustainability Building, and they have more than just location in common – both programs wanted to find a way of working together. Conversations began about how the shelter can be more involved in the county’s sustainability plan, cut their food waste, and provide a new educational option for clients.
The Regan Center garden quickly progressed from a conversation between programs to four raised beds at the shelter. The sustainability program generously provided the plants and dirt, and clients are responsible for all maintenance and care of their garden. They are currently growing tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, herbs and blueberries! The Regan Center also added food waste bins and are working with the sustainability program to ensure they are composting all excess food.
While a fun summer project, the garden is about more than the skills clients are learning.
“It has been a great educational experience for the clients to assist them with preparation to transition into stable housing. Additionally, the garden has been a great sense of relaxation, calm, and grounding in a time in their life when they need it most,” said Devon Catts, Program Director at the Regan Center.
VOADV’s mission is to provide the services needed for our clients to live self-fulfilled, independent lives. While case management and linkage to other essential services are crucial, the Regan Center team is going above and beyond in showing their dedication to those they serve. We’re looking forward to seeing how the seeds they planted develop as their client’s journeys continue.