When the Durham Rescue Mission first purchased the former motel building at 507 E Knox St in Durham, just off I-85, there was about a two-acre area of grass and weeds just as you entered the property.
Dr. Ernie Mills, CEO, had a lot on his mind. For starters, how could this four-story building be turned into a functional and attractive home for women and mothers with children? There were 137 rooms needing to be cleaned and furnished. There were tons of trash to haul off. Also, there needed to be a commercial grade kitchen built, as well as a large dining room area included in the renovation plans. There was much work to do on preparing the building before clients could move into this facility. Landscaping would have to wait.
While, no one appreciates a beautiful garden more than Dr. Mills, it just wasn’t a priority. Enter Rhonda Pollard!
Pollard was the incoming president of the Durham Council of Garden Clubs and a friend of the Durham Rescue Mission. She approached Dr. Mills and asked what he planned for the area. Since he was so busy with fundraising and renovations, Pollard jumped at the opportunity to tackle this project. Soon many others were recruited by Pollard. She recruited Dr. Pat Lindsey and her NCSU class to design the landscape project. Then she asked Cathy Lindsey, Pat’s sister, owner of Lindsey Landscaping in Apex, to help enlist other landscapers and nurseries to donate supplies and labor. Local garden clubs were excited to be a part of this beautification project. Pollard didn’t stop there, soon students from local universities were involved, as well as many companies, and civic groups. The project took off!
In 2005, once it was all said and done, the garden at the Good Samaritan Inn won a local and a regional award for the most outstanding landscaping project. Then the Pollard-Lindsey Garden won the national award for the best landscaping project by any garden club in the country!
Why is a garden even necessary?
Well, an important feature of this garden is that it provides new clients with a beautiful welcome when they arrive at the Good Samaritan Inn. The lovely trees, shrubs, and flowers, with the gazebo and fountain, are often a comfortable relief for women and children who have been abused and feel no one cares. The garden helps them feel like they are home not in a shelter. The pathway around the garden, with welcoming benches, provides a quiet place for meditation and restoration of broken spirits.
As you can imagine a garden is in constant need of upkeep. Weeds can quickly overtake any garden space. To keep a garden looking beautiful requires maintenance by professionals. Shortly after the garden was completed an endowment was set up for the purpose of continued upkeep. After 18 years, the endowment is in desperate need of funding. We are excited to have Pollard and her friends enlisting donations for the Pollard-Lindsey Garden Endowment Fund to provide for the necessary and ongoing upkeep of this special oasis for shattered women and children who seek refuge.