New Reutlinger garden an inviting, safe place for seniors


The Jewish News of Northern California logoJune 14, 2021

With the pandemic easing and warm weather arriving, the residents of Reutlinger Community will be getting outside more often. And when they do, they will be able to enjoy a beautiful garden right on their home turf.

The Deborah L. Lind Memorial Garden was established by Sam Lind in tribute to his late wife, TRC-resident-gardening-in-the-Deborah-L-Lind-Memorial-Gardenwho loved to garden and who was cared for temporarily at the Reutlinger Skilled Nursing Facility before her death at 65 in 2018.

The garden opened in April after months of delay caused by the pandemic. Residents of the Danville senior facility are now seeing early summer budding of flowers, fruits and vegetables — strawberries, sugar snap peas, cherry tomatoes, radishes and echinacea, among others.

Sam and Debby Lind were co-trustees of the Ilse Schiff Trust, which supports the renewal and beautification of the Reutlinger Community. The trust is named for Debby’s cousin, who was inspired to improve the lives of Jewish seniors through nature, beauty and the arts.

Debby Lind was an avid gardener with a vast knowledge of horticulture and appreciation for nature. Sam fondly recalled in an interview with J. how his wife enjoyed gardening so much she would often lose track of time while tending to the collection of roses, fruit trees and shrubs she kept in the backyard oasis of their Rockridge home. In addition to her natural green thumb, Debby was a generous and active member of the Jewish community, he said, often volunteering her time and talent to enrich the lives of others.

The memorial garden is a dedicated space for senior residents to have hands-on experience planting and growing.

TRC-residents-gardening-in-the-Deborah-L-Lind-Memorial-Garden“The idea came about that it shouldn’t be just a garden of beauty that people just sit and look at, it should be a working garden, because Debby was a working gardener,” Lind said. “She didn’t have somebody come in and make her garden beautiful so we could sit and look at it and drink martinis — she was out there picking till 9 o’clock, sometimes, pulling weeds.”

He and the Reutlinger team developed the concept for the garden as an interactive and inclusive space. It was designed by Susan Friedman Landscape Architecture to be user-friendly with an emphasis on accessibility for residents of all abilities.

Three raised planting beds, about waist-high, offer easy access for those using wheelchairs and walkers; smooth stone walkways facilitate safe mobility; and rounded edges on surface areas eliminate sharp corners.

Sustainability was another design intention of the garden, which is organic and watered with a drip irrigation system. Several benches allow residents to sit and enjoy the garden when they are not tending to it.

Clara Allen, executive director of Reutlinger, has over 25 years of experience in senior living and a background in therapeutic recreation. According to Allen, activities like gardening are not only crucial to seniors’ sense of fulfillment and quality of life, but to their physical and cognitive health, as well.

“When you merge their passion with something that’s actually going to improve their mobility or cognition, the activity becomes restorative, therapeutic and meaningful,” Allen said. “It’s holistic, and treating the whole person.”

The garden joins together the renewal intention of the Ilse Schiff Trust and Reutlinger’s focus on quality of life as part of a healing environment.

“It’s really kind of the lifeblood of a community. You know, not only caring for the residents, but caring about them,” Allen said. View The Jewish News Article.

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