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Women’s group provides seed money for Harrison garden

(left to right) Harrison Medical Center’s Community Development Coordinator Rhonda Brown, Complementary Therapies Coordinator Dana Sheppard, Oncology Nurse Manager Carole McDowell and Pat Ven Diest, president of Soroptimist International of Greater North Kitsap, pose with a $10,000 check that SI donated to Harrison Wednesday. - Photo by Paul Balcerak
(left to right) Harrison Medical Center’s Community Development Coordinator Rhonda Brown, Complementary Therapies Coordinator Dana Sheppard, Oncology Nurse Manager Carole McDowell and Pat Ven Diest, president of Soroptimist International of Greater North Kitsap, pose with a $10,000 check that SI donated to Harrison Wednesday.
— image credit: Photo by Paul Balcerak

By PAUL BALCERAK

Staff writer

Can bras save lives? There may soon be an answer.

Staff members from Harrison Medical Center and members of Soroptimist International of Greater North Kitsap (SI) gathered at Liberty Shores Assisted Living in Poulsbo on Wednesday as SI presented Harrison with a $10,000 check to be used toward the construction of a “healing garden” at the hospital.

The money was generated during SI’s “Bras for a Cause” auction in October, in which custom-designed bras were auctioned off to help fund local breast cancer-related services.

“We’re envisioning a space where patients, staff (and) families can go and have some greenery,” said Dana Sheppard, complementary therapies coordinator at Harrison. “So many people (patients) say, ‘I just want to go outside.’”

The project is still in its plannning stages, but ideally, it would feature an outdoor garden made up of aromatically and tangibly stimulating plants. It also could feature an area for patients and families to plant seeds and help care for the garden on their own.

The garden would be built with oncology patients in mind, but would be open to everyone at the hospital.

Some scientific studies have suggested that plants and natural settings can have a healing power on people, Sheppard said. “It will be an active space; it won’t just be something for people to sit and look at.”

It’ll be an appropriate tribute to a recently departed member of SI as well.

Bras for a Cause was conceived in the wake of SI member Kathy Inboden succumbing to breast cancer in October 2006. Inboden was described by many in attendance Wednesday as a “huge gardener.”

“It was a perfect fit,” said Bras for a Cause Coordinator Sunny Housen. “She would have loved it. She was a sassy lady, it was a sassy event and she would have loved the gardening aspect of it, too.”

The timeline for the project is a little fuzzy. Several architectural plans should be available for hospital officials to review and decide upon in the next two to three months. The design phase is not expected to begin till late summer, however, with construction beginning about a year from now at the earliest.

Costs of the project haven’t been determined yet, but SI’s “donation was sizable and it will make a large impact,” Sheppard said.

Harrison isn’t the only local organization to benefit from Bras for a Cause. SI plans to dole out more money to Hospice of Kitsap County and possibly a few other organizations.

SI raised more than $15,000 through Bras for a Cause, “which was really execptional, considering it was a first-time event,” Housen said.

In the meantime, the group is busy planning the next Bras for a Cause, which will take place Oct. 18 at the Kitsap Conference Center. Curiosity in the event is running high and SI expects about 300 people on hand — nearly a hundred more than last year.

“There was so much interest in this last one and so much positive feedback that there’s just a ton of interest in this next one,” Housen said.

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