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Planting seeds of learning: Devereux California’s greenhouse program helps adults grow job, life skills

 

Adults who participate in Devereux California’s greenhouse vocational program are cultivating critical job and life skills to help them increase their independence and enhance their overall quality of life. Pictured above: David P. working in the greenhouse.

The individuals are involved in every aspect of the greenhouse, from planting and watering to painting pots and selling the vegetables, herbs and succulents they grow. Pictured from left: Devereux California Direct Support Professional Chris Niro and Charles.

The greenhouse provides plants for people’s weddings, and in 2022, adults helped create 50 succulent centerpieces for the city of Goleta’s annual benefit dinner at the Lake Los Carneros Dam.

Adults who participate in Devereux Advanced Behavioral Health California’s greenhouse vocational program are gaining more than a green thumb, they are cultivating critical job and life skills to help them increase their independence and enhance their overall quality of life.

The individuals are involved in every aspect of the greenhouse, part of Devereux California’s Adult Day Program, from planting and watering to painting pots and selling the vegetables, herbs and succulents they grow.

“We provide plants for people’s weddings, and this summer, our adults helped create 50 succulent centerpieces for the city of Goleta’s annual benefit dinner at the Lake Los Carneros Dam,” said Devereux California Direct Support Professional Chris Niro, who leads the greenhouse program. “Community members will stop by the greenhouse and say, ‘I’m doing this. Are you able to help me?’ We are always happy to help in any way we can, whether someone wants to decorate their house or make a special event even more memorable.”

Devereux California Adult Day Program Administrator Nellie Just also noted, “The individuals we serve take pride in their work – it gives them purpose and enjoyment. Being in nature, working with their hands and helping things grow is therapeutic. Our adults look forward to spending time in the greenhouse, and they receive paychecks for the tasks they perform.”

Showcasing unique abilities

The greenhouse provides adults of all abilities an opportunity to showcase their skills and talents.

“If you can only pour soil, you pour soil and learn other tasks as you go,” explained Just. “The greenhouse allows individuals with different levels of ability to be engaged at the same time. Those who are able to do more, teach those who are still absorbing skills.”

Niro added, “Sometimes, I stand back and let our adults help each other with a project. I am there to assist if they need me, but it is wonderful to see them increase their self-confidence and work as independently as possible, or ask each other for assistance. This builds teamwork. Our adults have a routine, and they know what we need to do. When they finish one task, they will ask me, ‘Can I do this?’ Or, ‘What do you need help doing?' Working in the greenhouse helps them strengthen their social and life skills – they are learning to be kind and helpful.”

Cultivating a love of gardening

The adults who work in the greenhouse are excited to spend time there each week. Look below to find out what just a few of them love most about their jobs.

“I’ve worked at the greenhouse since it started, and have learned how to plant seeds, water plants and paint stuff. I enjoy doing everything and seeing everybody.”
David P.

“I’m more independent and patient. I like getting close to nature, and using my mind to plant seeds.”
Robert

“I’ve learned how to plant and water, straighten the gloves and paint things. My favorite part is planting and seeing the marigolds.”
David R.

Niro shared, “Our individuals are motivated to be here. We all want to feel needed, and our adults know what they do is important and that it provides a service to the community.”

Learn more about Devereux California, and learn more about Devereux Advanced Behavioral Health.

 

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