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backyard makeover - AZRE Magazine May/June 2012

Valley Partnership's Extreme Backyard Makeover

Valley Partnership’s annual community project transforms a Maggie’s Place facility with a backyard makeover.

If there is one thing that every house should have it’s a dream backyard.

Even on a rainy November morning, Valley Partnership volunteers came together for their annual community project to bring the potential for an ideal backyard to fruition.

The mission was to refurbish the yard of one of the community facilities for Maggie’s Place, a home for expectant mothers who wish to achieve their goals in a dignified atmosphere.

The only significant feature of the backyard at Magdalene House’s in Phoenix, one of Maggie’s Places, was an old gazebo that was removed as part of the project’s construction. Additionally, there wasn’t much functionality with the lack of grass and a play structure.

The 2011 project brought in more than 150 volunteers — more than last year’s event — with the chance for each helper to contribute. The volunteers could participate in any of the activities:

  • Scraping the ground to level it out for the incoming playground;
  • Filling the removed gazebo space with personalized bricks used from donations;
  • Building a small play area, including equipment for mothers to have meetings while also watching their children;
  • Planting, painting and ornamenting the yard to add decoration.

The new backyard, completed in a day’s work, was a combination of the volunteers’ vision and the residents’ excitement.

Selecting a project each year is a collaborative effort usually by a core group of volunteers on the Valley Partnership project committee.

Project chairperson, Terri Martin-Denning of NAI Horizon, says the group decided on Maggie’s Place because “it fit Valley Partnership’s mission; their needs aligned with our (Valley Partnership) goals.”

Once the project is chosen, a development team is assembled to plan the construction process. The committee members then look for those with skilled labor to complete the heavy building; removing the worn gazebo was one of those arduous tasks. Finally, the volunteers are recruited and the renovations can commence.

Those behind Maggie’s Place founded the first house on Mother’s Day of 2000 — a suitable day to express gratitude for current and future moms. Magdalene’s House in Phoenix began with five pregnant women in need of a home. It has since expanded to five houses located in Tempe, Glendale and Cleveland, Ohio.

The mission of Maggie’s Place is to:

  • Provide hospitality for pregnant women alone or on the streets;
  • Connect expectant and new mothers to resources involving prenatal care, health insurance and education;
  • Inform and encourage the use of savings programs to prepare mothers for life after Maggie’s Place.

Valley Partnership is the only grass-root organization in Arizona dedicated to promote responsible development. Its commitment was particularly revealed in the restoration of Maggie’s Place and the enthusiasm of both the volunteers and the recipients.

Director of facilities at Maggie’s Place, Dave Kriegl, says they are always looking for outreach from volunteers and organizations. He also says that despite the rain that November day, there was “quite a transformation and a remarkable change” after the volunteers finished the job.

Both Martin-Denning and Kriegl say they believe the expectations of the committee and the women residing in Maggie’s Place were fully met.

Through the laborious work of the volunteers, the residents of the Magdalene House are able to relish in a renewed and kid-friendly backyard, host events and enjoy all the benefits that Maggie’s Place has to offer.

For more information about the backyard makeover at Maggie’s Place, visit the Valley Partnership’s website at valleypartnershipcommunityproject.org

AZRE Magazine May/June 2012