Herman Miller’s beautiful outdoor plant display, created for NeoCon, has a new home. Although it wasn’t designed as a healing garden, it will surely be a source of comfort to the women and children of Madonna House, a homeless shelter for victims of domestic violence, where the trees, flowers and bushes now reside.
It was all part of a plan that blossomed into a feel good story with a great outcome. It started when the Herman Miller folks responsible for the plant display decided to donate it after NeoCon. Herman Miller’s A&D Rep in Chicago, Alan Almasy suggested Designs for Dignity (D4D), a non-profit group whose mission is engaging the design community to bring good design to those who can least afford it.
D4D volunteers had completed the interior of the shelter last winter, so the timing was perfect. “And a garden is such a serene and wonderful healing environment,” says Michelle Weiner, who serves on the D4D board and is V.P. Strategic Development at Interior Investments, Herman Miller’s Chicago dealership.
So on Friday, June 18, a hot, muggy morning, volunteers from Herman Miller, Interior Investments, area design firms, students, and the Madonna House/Catholic Charities Administrative team arrived with shovels in hand to transform a barren backyard into a lush, green garden.
Christy Webber, owner of the landscaping company that originally created the display for Herman Miller, also donated her services, equipment and manpower to help out. “It’s the best volunteer crew I’ve ever seen!” she said of the hard-working task force.
And the people at Madonna House couldn’t be happier with the results. As Morgan Henington of Catholic Charities said, “This ‘forever gift’ is so pretty and vibrant. It’s already attracting butterflies and will bring so much pleasure to our moms and their children.”
And get this: to complete the circle, the garden will be maintained by a city-sponsored program called “Green Corps Chicago,” which provides green-industry training and permanent job placement for dozens of Chicagoans every year.
And to think it all started with one little idea someone planted that just grew…and grew…and grew…