When is a garden more than just a garden?
When it symbolizes a new community partnership and shared dedication to providing resources to those in need.
This is the case for Lakebay Community Church’s new community garden, built in partnership with Hope Recovery Center, on its 7-acre parcel located at 4706 Key Peninsula Highyway.
The church received the land several years ago and was initially planning to build a new church on the location, said Pat Augusztiny, secretary and board member at the church who is also on the board of Hope Recovery.
But last year the church decided to give up the idea of a new building and instead look for ways to help the community with the land.
“The vision then was we were going to build a new church,” Augusztiny said. “We’re not a big church. We decided we don’t need to build ourselves a big new building.”
As church members began to look for local partnerships, almost immediately they became connected with two different organizations: Carol Johnson from Seeds of Grace and Jeremiah Saucier with Hope Recovery Center.
This whole thing to me has been a miracle to watch. Wonderful things are happening.
Pat Augusztiny, secretary and board member at Lakebay Community Church, board member of Hope Recovery
“This whole thing to me has been a miracle to watch,” Augusztiny said. “Wonderful things are happening.”
After meeting with Saucier last year, the church’s board knew immediately it wanted to offer the land to build the proposed treatment center to help the struggling community and widespread drug abuse now documented around the nation and in Pierce County.
For Saucier — founder of Hope Recovery and owner of Crossroads Treatment Center in Lakewood — the partnership is the next step in his dream to build an addiction treatment center on the Key Peninsula.
“We’re just excited and looking forward to get this in a place where there’s actually construction going on,” Saucier said. “Once I see that first shovel go in the ground I will be so excited and, I’m sure, very emotional.”
Now that Hope Recovery has land to build on, Saucier has been able to move forward in planning with a conditional permit from Pierce County. An architect has been employed to help plan the center and the early stages of design are underway.
The first project on the property was the community garden, which both Augusztiny and Saucier say will be enlarged and remain on site as part of the treatment at the recovery center and to continue to support the Key Peninsula community.
Land for the garden was cleared and 12 raised beds were constructed by more than 100 volunteers in March, including a garden shed and deer fence to protect the produce. Volunteers at the event included church and Hope Recovery representatives, along with Seeds of Grace and youth from the Washington Youth Academy in Bremerton.
The garden will also appear on the annual Key Peninsula Farm Tour held this fall, with booths from Seeds of Grace, Hope Recovery Center and Food Backpacks 4 Kids.
Augusztiny has been harvesting produce weekly to include in the church’s Harvest Share program, adding fresh produce to the non-perishables offered at 1 p.m. every Wednesday. The produce will also benefit those attending Hope Recovery Center in the future, Saucier said, to help reset their bodies and minds to more positive and healthy patterns.
“The thing with recovery is these people deep in recovery have eating patterns (which) aren’t normal — nothing about them is normal,” he said. “So what you do is get them regimented to something new.”
There’s huge, huge support for Hope Recovery in the congregation. We are totally, 100 percent for it. We’ve made a commitment to them.
Support for the recovery center has been growing around Pierce County and the Key Peninsula, and Augusztiny said this support is echoed in the congregation at Lakebay Community Church, which contains many who have dealt with addiction issues, had family or friends deal with addiction or have seen those in their community struggle with these issues.
“There’s huge, huge support for Hope Recovery in the congregation,” Augusztiny said. “We are totally, 100 percent for it. We’ve made a commitment to them.”
As things move forward, Saucier credits his continued momentum forward with the solid foundation and practical advice that he received from South Sound/Tacoma SCORE, a mentorship team that provide free professional counseling to entrepreneurs and small business owners in Pierce, Thurston, Lewis, Mason and Grays Harbor counties.
“These people have been all successful in their life … basically they donate their time. They’re the ones that met with us and helped make this more of a reality instead of just a vision,” he said. “People like this, in the very beginning, helped me.”
Saucier has also begun setting up a presence for Hope Recovery — not yet licensed — and Crossroads in the Key Center Community office in the Key Center Corral.
“We wanted to be able to help people anyway we can,” he said. “I know that we’re moving forward and one day, hopefully sooner than later, we’ll have Hope Recovery up and running and able to help these people.”
We wanted to be able to help people anyway we can. I know that we’re moving forward and one day, hopefully sooner than later, we’ll have Hope Recovery up and running and able to help these people.
Fundraising is one of the biggest projects currently facing Saucier and Hope Recovery, along with continuing to build support with the community for the treatment center.
The next fundraiser, in partnership with the Red Barn Youth Center, is the Neighbors Helping Neighbors Golf Tournament scheduled for 9 a.m. Aug. 18 at Horseshoe Lake Golf Course, 250 SW Club House Court in Port Orchard.
A community and board meeting for Hope Recovery Center will be held at 7 p.m. Aug. 25 at A New Beginning Family Christian, 810 SW Wildwood Road in Port Orchard.