Garden helps homeless veteran feel a sense of community

Homeless veterans living at three separate HVAF properties have a new garden to help them heal, thanks to volunteers from Eli Lilly and Company and their Veterans Leadership Network (VLN). The gardens will serve as a place where veterans can get together.

Eli Lilly and Company and VLN volunteer at HVAF
Members of the veterans group first reached out to HVAF in January to learn about volunteer opportunities. Twenty-five people came out on June 4, and volunteered at HVAF’s Warman and Moreau properties as well as at HVAF headquarters. The groups planted vegetables, fruit, and flowers as well as cleaned common areas. Most importantly, they spent time learning about some of the veterans that occupy the space. 

Veterans typically stay in HVAF’s housing properties for up to two years. It’s a supportive place for veterans who go from being homeless to eventually living in a place of their own.

“I think a lot of us tend to isolate and feel alone,” says Roger D., 31, who entered HVAF’s recovery program in March.  “I’m going to watch the flowers grow as I continue to grow and better myself in HVAF’s recovery program,” he said.

Roger checks on the flowers daily and waters them on days it does not rain. He believes the garden will help create a sense of community as veterans’ transition home.

“Listening to their stories made it all worthwhile,” says Heather Willhite, Sr. Executive Assistant, Lilly Market Research and Customer Experience. “We like to do whatever we can do to help our veterans and our community and we hope that the plants yield plenty to keep them full all summer long and they enjoy the space that we were able to create for them,” adds Heather.

“If it wasn’t for this group volunteering and bringing in supplies, we would not have had the resources to do this ourselves,” says Executive Vice President of Operations Ron Shelley.

In all, 95 veterans will enjoy the new and creative space.