Community Garden Helps Grow Partnership for Twin Falls Nonprofit Because Kids Grieve

The memorial walkway is part of the master plan for the Because Kids Grieve facility in Twin Falls. Eventually, the path will be covered by pavers that honor lost loved ones. The path takes visitors through each of the six stages of grief.

A Memorial Pathway, Play Area and Garden
Will Support Kids Who Have Lost a Loved One

Twin Falls nonprofit Because Kids Grieve is a support organization that helps children, teens and their families grieve after the death of a loved one. One of the things essential to helping children heal is the sense of community that the organization fosters through a variety of activities.

Because Kids Grieve purchased a building on the corner of Shoup Avenue and Harrison Street in late 2019, and after the pandemic, proceeded with its plan to create a memorial garden and a memory wall to support grieving children. It applied for a grant from the City of Twin Falls made possible by a Community Transformation Grant the city received from the Blue Cross of Idaho Foundation for Health. This $250,000 grant is for the community to activate programs and projects that encourage physical activity for kids and also increase access to healthy foods.

The team of local leaders who manage the Community Transformation Grant liked the proposal but wanted to promote its goal of increasing access to healthy food in the city. The team proposed adding a community garden to the project, with the help of the University of Idaho Extension. Both parties, which had never partnered prior to this grant, agreed.

“We thought the application for a memorial garden created the perfect opportunity to blend their goals of a peaceful, serene space with our goal of providing nutritious food to the community,” said Kyli Gough, a community health manager for St. Luke’s Health System, who is on the team managing the grant.

The U of I, which also applied for and received funding from the city, supported the Because Kids Grieve project by designing and building the gardens at its facility. The U of I also offered weekly gardening classes in June and nutrition classes in July at the site as part of the grant.

PARTNERSHIPS ARE PRICELESS

“We could not do anything we are doing without partnerships,” said Mike Seward, the board president of Because Kids Grieve, an all-volunteer organization that doesn’t receive any state or federal funding. “We have a lot of partnerships with community organizations, and now working with the city and the university is helping us create a whole new thing.”

Seward and the Because Kids Grieve board of directors love the idea of a community garden, especially with its neighborhood location.

“We wanted to be in a location like this that feels like we’re a part of the community,” Seward said. “We want to send a message to anyone who comes here that we are part of the community. This community garden piece will bring people here and make them aware of what we do.”

The nonprofit offers monthly events that help families cope with the loss of loved ones. While services are focused on children and teens, parents also can benefit.

The community garden has been planted at the Because Kids Grieve campus in Twin Falls.

Seward remembers asking a woman about her experience at the facility after one of the activities.

“This mother said, and I’ll never forget this, ‘what helped me the most was to see my little girl laugh again,’” Seward recalled. “That’s powerful. What we hear from kids more times than not is the thing they benefit from is knowing there are other kids just like them. We just try to create an atmosphere where kids can interact.”

The memorial garden is progressing and contains six different stations where visitors can walk through and reflect with the help of positive messaging. Eventually, a path of pavers (that will have the option to be engraved) will connect each station. A fence will be turned into a memorial wall, where lost loved ones can be remembered. The opportunity to plant flowers also is being considered, as well as a small play area for younger children.

The grant committee is happy it could help both Because Kids Grieve and the University of Idaho Extension.

“The opportunity to connect them was the opportunity to do just that,” Gough said. “Initially, the application was not centered around gardening. The connection to University of Idaho Extension added the chance to enhance their memorial garden into a true community garden. This ultimately provided even more benefit to the community.”

Each stage of the six stages of grief are posted on signs that rise from a raised flower bed along the memorial walkway at Because Kids Grieve.