Lew Muckle Elementary School students involved in Project Promise’s Caterpillar Project (TCP) joined with other community volunteers and Howard University students to complete a long-anticipated memorial garden for the Gov. Juan F. Luis Hospital and Medical Center (JFL) on Monday, March 13. The volunteer group, led by Project Promise founder and president Resa O’Reilly, met at the hospital and put together JFL’s Perinatal Loss Center of Hope’s Infant and Children’s memorial garden as part of the organization's monthly community service project.
Every month, TCP students complete a community service project in line with a monthly theme. March’s theme is Mental Health, and O’Reilly contacted JFL to see what area would best benefit from their assistance. O’Reilly heard about the garden that had been established in 2015, but wasn’t developed, and came up with the concept and tranquil garden design revealed on March 13 that included a pergola and bench.
O’Reilly recruited local carpenter Michael Augustin to build the pergola and bench for the garden, and recruited volunteers from Caravelle Casino, students from Howard University and the Project Promise TCP program. The volunteer group stained the pergola and bench, installed stepping stones and a water fountain, and planted flowers to complete the tranquil space that was the vision of Neonatal Intensive Care Unit nurse manager Faye John-Baptiste. “The garden is absolutely gorgeous and I am almost at a loss for words with the outpouring of love we have experienced today,” remarked John-Baptiste. “I can’t thank Ms. Resa O’Reilly, Project Promise and the other groups enough who came together to make this project possible.”
Project Promise is dedicating the memorial garden in honor of 18-year-old St. Croix native Asa O’Neal, who was a freshman at Howard University when he passed away last November. Some of O’Neal’s classmates who were visiting the island on Spring Break that week also volunteered. They came to St. Croix at the suggestion of Asa’s mother, Denise O’Neal, who offered them the opportunity to see St. Croix and give back to the community. “We thought it was a great idea because as his friends, we can give back to this community, and at the same time honor Asa’s memory,” said Howard University student Jordan Lake, who is also from St. Croix.
St. Croix Trading Company donated the lumber for the project, Gallows Bay Hardware donated the varnish and paint supplies, O’Reilly Plumbing and Construction transported supplies and Caravelle Casino donated $500 toward the water fountain, flowers and pavers, along with providing a group of employee volunteers.
“This project was absolutely amazing to work on, and I am so honored to be able to help the hospital bring this project to fruition,” remarked O’Reilly. “I would like to thank all of the local businesses who answered the call to help create and complete this memorial garden for the parents who experience the unimaginable loss of a child,” concluded O’Reilly.
For more information about The Caterpillar Project or other Project Promise programs, please contact Resa O’Reilly at (340) 244-3242 or visit www.projectpromisevi.com.
Project Promise is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization dedicated to improving the lives of at-risk youth on St. Croix by providing empowerment initiatives, cultural programs and family services.
Caterpiller Project student volunteers plant flowers at JFL memorial garden on March 13, 2017.