When you step into the Margaret Tietz Nursing & Rehabilitation Center, you will notice an outdoor courtyard with an exquisite garden, overflowing with colorful mums and other assorted flowers. There’s a sad and beautiful story behind that garden, which Mrs. Sharyn Schneider graciously shared with me.
Around a year and a half ago, a friend of hers was crossing the street in Great Neck when tragically she was struck by a hit-and-run driver. The friend, Fay Dor, had been an extremely active person. She did yoga, played in bridge tournaments, and participated in a bicycling club. This tragic accident left Mrs. Dor paralyzed.
Mrs. Dor only had mobility in three fingers on her left hand. She stayed in her room and did not want to go out at all. She would listen to books on tape and music in her room.
One time, when Mrs. Schneider was visiting Mrs. Dor, Mrs. Schneider suggested that since it was a gorgeous day outside they should go and sit in the garden. She hoped she could tempt her friend to leave her room.
Mrs. Schneider was pleasantly surprised when Mrs. Dor acquiesced. Mrs. Dor’s sister happened to be on her way to visit and she met them both on the elevator. Mrs. Dor’s sister was surprised, as well, to find her sister out of her room.
Mrs. Schneider describes how the three of them entered the courtyard garden and there were no flowers there, just empty flowerbeds. There were trees but no sign of any color. She noticed that the only dirt there was cracked and dry. It appeared that perhaps there had been a garden there at one time (see before photo of garden).
Seeing this bare garden, Mrs. Schneider made a decision about the garden. She wanted to bring it back to life. This would be a gift for her friend and for Margaret Tietz.
The administration was thrilled with the idea. Mrs. Schneider then sent out emails to friends and relatives, and Project ReBloom was born.
So many people wanted to help. Mrs. Schneider asked Roma Horticulture for dirt; they didn’t have any but they donated trees. She shared the story of the garden with a ShopRrite store and they donated colorful gourds. When she shared her idea with her friend Fay, Fay was excited and helped pick out bulbs for the garden. Tulips, daffodils, daisies – a gorgeous array of flowers would be planted.
Sadly, right before they planted the garden, Mrs. Dor passed away. Mrs. Schneider shared that they planted the bulbs in her friend’s memory.
On Thursday evening, September 6, Margaret Tietz hosted a planting thank you cocktail party to show appreciation to all the donors and volunteers that made this Project ReBloom possible. A plaque was dedicated in memory of Mrs. Fay Dor. Local politicians attended. It was a beautiful event. The garden is full of colorful flowers that perfume the air.
Mrs. Schneider shared that they need donations to keep the garden going. The perennials need care and the annuals need to be replanted each year. The staff members love going into the garden and the residents enjoy it immensely. For many residents this is their only contact with the outside and nature. When families come to visit, they enjoy the garden as well.
For Mrs. Schneider, the planting event this fall was bittersweet. It was difficult to not have her friend there for the planting. Planting this garden drew a wonderful outpouring of support. When Mrs. Schneider comes to Margaret Tietz to tend the garden, people stop her to tell her how much pleasure they are receiving from this exquisite garden.
Hashem created so much beauty in our world. The garden creates a living memorial of beauty to a dear friend who was the impetus for this project that cheers so many.
If you would like to donate to the garden, you can send your donation to Margaret Tietz with “Project ReBloom” written in the memo portion of the check.
By Susie Garber