Thursday, April 14, 2011

Growing Hope: Dave Tally and the Escalante Community Garden

Hope is that thing with feathers that perches in the soul and sings the tune without the words and never stops... at all.  ~Emily Dickinson

In November 2010, Dave Tally, a participant in Tempe Community Action Agency’s Interfaith-Homeless Emergency Lodging Program made a decision that changed his life.  While at a Tempe Light Rail stop, Dave found a backpack containing $3,300.  For Dave, a homeless individual, that money could have bought many things, including a new bike because his had just broken; however, Dave returned the money to the owner, an Arizona State University student.  Dave’s decision to return the backpack struck a chord with Tempe community members, and people across the country, who all sent donations to Dave, including Eli from Connecticut, who mailed Dave $4.00, his allowance for that week.

The outpouring of financial and emotional support Dave received since November changed his life in unimaginable ways.  The money allowed Dave the chance to move into his own apartment in Tempe.  Also, through this incident, Tempe Community Action Agency staff members learned that Dave had a background in horticulture and landscaping, and hired him to be the Escalante Community Garden Coordinator.  Dave now has a sustainable source of income, and is doing work he absolutely loves.

As the ECG Coordinator, Dave works alongside the community to manage volunteers in the garden, coordinate all of the agricultural projects in the garden, and act as a spokesperson for the garden.  About his new job, Dave says: “I love watching things grow, seeing how the plants mature and produce, and being around people that have the same interests as I do.  I feel beyond fortunate.”

Let this inspiring story be an important lesson for people working in community gardens everywhere; all around us are people with skills, hopes, dreams, and values.  It is our duty as citizens of this ever-abundant world to help every person achieve their most beautiful dreams for their lives.  We can do this by making our gardens inclusive spaces where all community members are welcome to participate.  Also, we can begin offering small stipends for homeless community members in good-standing who work in our gardens to help them achieve self-sufficiency.  Furthermore, we can always reach our hands out to people like Mr. Tally, who just need to know that there is hope for us all.

Dave holding some of our very first seedlings

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