Leadership Seeks Serenity with New Garden



An effort by members of Leadership Sarasota aims to bring some serenity to those in need of social services. The creation of a garden at the Glasser/Schoenbaum Human Services Center could create an enduring legacy at the Sarasota campus.

“We have teams incorporating as many elements as possible,” says Sue Wetzel, who is chairing the communications team for this year’s Leadership Class. The garden was selected out of 15 prospective projects, but the impact of Hurricane Irma on the area this fall delayed efforts on the garden from beginning in earnest. Now, Wentzel says the class is raising money and moving ahead on designs.

The garden will be designed with peacefulness, collaboration and reflection in mind. Wetzel says several audiences will be served, whether it's children who want a place to play, adults who need areas for private conversation or individuals who just need a place to quietly sit in their own thoughts. Some plants will be placed in memory of patients who previously obtained services at Glasser/Schoenbaum, with the experts from Marie Selby Botanical Gardens contributing their knowledge to vegetation decisions. Wetzel says the group particularly is seeking out donations for benches that will be set in the garden, and durable benches prove to be expensive parts of this type of project.

The Glasser/Schoenbaum’s Campus of Caring houses nonprofit organizations serving low-income and at-risk individuals. About 45,00 clients, both children and adults, receive services from organizations on the campus each year. The garden is slated to open to the public in May.

“We are thrilled to have the partnership of the Chamber’s Leadership Sarasota program to enhance and improve our campus with this unique green space feature for our 16 nonprofits agencies and those they serve," says Kameron Hodgens, CEO and executive director of the Glasser/Schoenbaum Human Services Center.

The Leadership Class of 2018 includes 40 members, including many with expertise in design, engineering, landscaping, financing and planning, all useful for executing a project such as this. Wetzel says the project is the culmination of efforts this year. “We get together for one full day each month in a concentrated area of understanding and information-gathering in Sarasota,” she says. That includes media days, industry visits and government explorations. And each year, it involves a public undertaking intended to make a positive contribution that may not be quantitatively measured but qualitatively experienced, which is the aim of the garden.

Leadership Sarasota is a project of The Greater Sarasota Chamber of Commerce.

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