HomeFront’s new Healing and Memorial Garden is a community collaboration

Pictured under the pergola built by All Saints’ Church, Princeton, are HomeFront staff and community members who made the Healing and Memorial Garden possible. Pictured, from left: Dana Irlbacher, Bay Weber, Liz Wasch, Marc Allen, Frederick Wasch, and the Rev. Dr. Hugh Brown. 

HomeFront formally dedicated a new Healing and Memorial Garden at the Family Campus of its Family Preservation Center in Ewing.

Sheila Addison, director of the Family Campus, explained the importance of this new space after the dedication on July 30.

“The garden is a natural extension of our Family Campus. Both are places to help families rebuild their spirits after dealing with the pain and trauma of homelessness,” she said in a statement provided by HomeFront.

The garden will provide a place for meditative thought, moments of beauty, and gardening projects, while also commemorating the passing of HomeFront family members.

The centerpiece is a pergola constructed by volunteer members of All Saints’ Church in Princeton. The pergola replaces a similar one constructed by the church in 2010 at the Family Preservation Center’s former home at the Marie Katzenbach School for the Deaf, according to the statement. After moving to its present location in 2015, HomeFront asked All Saints’ to construct the new one, which was completed shortly before the pandemic outbreak.

The pergola faces an extensive garden of indigenous flowers planted with the help of Meredith Melendez of the Rutgers Cooperative Extension of Mercer County, the Mercer County Board of Agriculture, landscape architect Bay Weber, and the Wasch Family Foundation.

At the dedication, the Rev. Dr. Hugh Brown, rector of All Saints’ Church, commented, “We are honored and blessed to partner with HomeFront in support of at-risk families; spiritual support is so critical to human dignity, respect, and empowerment. Our own Christian faith calls us to serve God by serving our neighbor, especially our vulnerable neighbor.  We are thankful to be part of the Healing and Memorial Garden project of the Family Preservation Center; it is a work of healing, hope and renewal. This is faith in action.”

Connie Mercer, HomeFront Founder and CEO, said in the statement, “My hope is that this will become a place where our parents can come to reflect and renew, our children can laugh and sing and witness the joy of nature, and those who we miss can always be remembered.”

HomeFront is headquartered in Lawrence Township.