Deloitte Volunteers “Dig In” for Youngsters with HIV/AIDS

By Karen Daly
Photographs by Jehovy

On a bright June afternoon, I watched 20 volunteers hard at the work of weeding, sweeping, mulching and planting the gardens of the Incarnation Children’s Center in Upper Manhattan.

They were participating in Deloitte Impact Day, an annual community development event sponsored by the worldwide consulting and advisory firm.  As a writer and volunteer blogger for Catholic Charities I found this special volunteer event particularly memorable.

Incarnation, a Catholic Charities affiliated agency, is home to 21 children and adolescents living with HIV/AIDS. It is New York City’s only skilled nursing facility that provides the youngsters with the specialized care they may require. In addition to their medical concerns, a highly qualified and caring staff addresses the children’s educational, psychological and social needs.

Meagan Frederick, Director of Development, coordinates Incarnation’s fund raising and community outreach. She’s also been chief gardener of this marvelous city garden for several years, having earned a special certificate in Horticulture for this purpose. Meagan started the morning with a brief tutorial on planting.  As someone not blessed with the proverbial green thumb, I found her tips amazingly useful, and so did the volunteers from Deloitte.

The volunteers were as charmed as I was with the cheerful backyard behind Incarnation’s red brick building. It features shaded sitting areas, a basketball hoop, a rose trellis and a vibrant mural painted by a previous volunteer team. Thanks to the Deloitte team’s hard work on Friday, the garden will be refreshed and filled with colorful flowers again this summer. Incarnation’s garden is a welcoming spot for the residents to enjoy, and a wonderful example of the creative use of limited urban space.

Another surprise, Incarnation’s rooftop garden supplies the Center with vegetables and herbs. Tomatoes, peppers, zucchini and eggplant will be growing on the roof, along with thyme, basil, sage and lemon balm. This year, Meagan says, by popular demand, they’ll experiment with watermelon. The garden not only provides fresh, homegrown produce, it offers the young residents a learning opportunity.

The Deloitte volunteers came to garden and many left with immense appreciation for Incarnation’s special mission. They may be gratified that they did make an impact. As a result of their efforts, Incarnation’s gardens will bloom for the enjoyment and nourishment of its young residents all summer long.

To learn more about Incarnation Children's Center and to see how you can help.