Easter Seals clients get new greenhouse

MANATEE — The General Electric volunteers seemed to pump sweat by the pint Friday afternoon as they constructed a new greenhouse for Easter Seals Southwest Florida.

With the new greenhouse, the children and adults with disabilities served by Easter Seals will have an opportunity to learn how to nurture and grow plants and vegetables, valuable training in their quest to become self-sufficient.

That group of 15 General Electric management trainees was in Bradenton for a training program and was looking to support such a community service project.

Easter Seals needed “arms and legs” to complete the project, said Julie DeWane of General Electric Security, “and the marriage was made.”

Manatee County resident Ginger Judge made the donation to support the greenhouse project with a memorial in her family’s name.

A former greenhouse that sat on the Easter Seals campus near Sarasota-Bradenton International Airport is now a collection of tattered boards of wood piled in a Dumpster.

“It had been around for over 10 years,” said Jeff Smith, Easter Seals maintenance supervisor. “We tore the old one out last Saturday. It was four feet down in the ground in concrete. It wore me out. With this one, we can start out with a little ‘Victory Garden,’ and start growing tomatoes.”

The group of trainees from around the county said they enjoyed the work.

“We get to be outside, get all sweaty,” said trainee Matt Bossemeyer.

Lianne Lydum added, “We’re all people who enjoy a challenge.”

Another trainee, Mike Smith, perhaps said it best: “It’s for the kids.”

Andrew Werner from Ocean Builders served as contractor and supervisor for the project.

Easter Seals is a nonprofit organization that provides outreach, education and advocacy so that adults and children with disabilities have a chance to succeed in their communities.

Nick Walter, Herald staff writer, can be reached at 745-7013.