Keep Texas Beautiful has selected the City of Santa Fe to receive its Government Award for making a positive difference in its community and enhancing the environment for its citizens. Santa Fe was chosen as the 2018 winner for cities with less than 30,000 population and will be presented its award at the Keep Texas Beautiful Annual Conference in Rockwall on June 18-20, 2019.
The City is being honored for boldly supporting the revitalization of the Keep Santa Fe Beautiful (KSFB) organization and for its support to transform an under-utilized park into a therapeutic garden.
In 2018, while its community addressed the impacts from Hurricane Harvey and the horrific shooting at the local high school, the City of Santa Fe embraced a unique approach to help its residents heal by providing property to create a place of peace and serenity. Santa Fe approved a proposal from the non-profit Keep Santa Fe Beautiful to convert the Mae S. Bruce Park on Main Street to a garden, specifically designed to help those with trauma, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder. The area will be reconfigured and feature plants of calming scents and vision, walking trails, and seating areas.
Under new leadership, KSFB proposed the idea to the City in June 2018 and before the end of the year, preliminary ground work and new fencing had been completed with assistance from the City, as well as other companies providing in-kind services and materials. KSFB continues to move the plan forward with an expected completion date later this year. The local volunteer organization is sponsoring an Earth Day Festival, April 27, with free activities for the family and with opportunities to help raise the funds for the Garden. For more details, go to, http://www.keepsantafetxbeautiful.org/
Once the Garden is ready, the space will be the home of nature-based therapy classes and programs offered by the Resiliency Center, a facility nobly opened by the City of Santa Fe immediately after the shooting that offers free mental health services and resources to its community.
As partners, the City of Santa Fe, the Resiliency Center, and Keep Santa Fe Beautiful continue to work together to enhance their neighborhoods and empower others to make Santa Fe and Texas a better and more beautiful place.
SANTA FE, Texas (KTRK) --
Painted on Santa Fe City Hall, a mural serves as a reminder of the May 18 attack, but directly behind the building, there's a place that could one day help survivors cope with the trauma.
Mandy Jordan leads the nonprofit Keep Santa Fe Beautiful. Jordan's working to turn the greenspace behind City Hall into a therapeutic garden, and as the mother of a Santa Fe student, she knows how useful it could be to the entire community.
"During the holidays I wanted to lock myself away and that's not good," said Jordan. "Getting outside, feeling the sunshine, being around others, and having that group therapy is actually very beneficial to our emotional health."
Dozens of people from across the country came to Santa Fe in October to help start the work on the garden.
"You try to move on, you want to move on with your life, but this is a positive thing to help everyone in the community as the years go by," said Santa Fe survivor Flo Rice, shot five times in the attack.
But there's still a lot to be done, and a lot of money needed to do it.
"Whenever I look at nature, I think of God and how beautiful everything is that He gave to us and how, even in pain, there's still beauty," said Santa Fe grad Annabelle O'Day. "And so I think it would be really beneficial to have something like this to go to."
Jordan is hoping donations could help put in trails, a sensory garden, and meditation spots for solitary reflection.
"It's beauty and it's something that I think would bring joy to anybody who would come here and visit," said Steve Perkins, whose wife Ann was killed in the shooting.
He says he's tried to stay busy and concentrate on his work since her death.
"But it is still a very hard thing to do: to wake up and you're in a house with nobody there," said Perkins. "You still keep thinking 'It's a bad dream' and it's not and you just have to keep moving forward."
And he thinks the future garden, not far from his home, could help him do that.
"After May, our community came together a lot but we really need something to show that we are healing and a place to go and heal," said Jordan.
Keep Santa Fe Beautiful needs to raise nearly $200,000 to complete the garden. You can email Mandy Jordan at firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like to donate.
Katherine Marchand - ABC13
More than a year after Hurricane Harvey flooded much of Galveston County, many are still in need of repairs or rebuilding.
That’s why the faith-based 8 Days of Hope came in the spring to help repair more than 100 homes in area.
Volunteers from the national group returned this month to help repair and rebuild those still struggling after the storm.
The effort also included helping the city of Santa Fe spruce up one of its long neglected parks. The town was not only affected by Harvey but is still Recovering from the May 18 shooting at Santa Fe High School that killed 10 people and injured 13 more and left a town traumatized.
Recently the city council approved bringing back Keep Santa Fe Beautiful an effort to spruce up the city. It was a collaborative effort by many involved in large part to give the city something positive to focus on.
TJ Aulds - i45NOW