By Abigail Thomason
January 10, 2018
Many of you are familiar with our Healing Garden and all of the beauty it offers. You may have sat in reflection areas, played on the playscapes, or walked by and admired the art our cancer survivors have created. Something we may not often think about while enjoying the garden is the work that goes on behind the scenes to keep it so beautiful and clean. Art of Life is blessed to have many community partnerships with people who labor tirelessly in the background. We would now like to highlight one of those partnerships. We are proud to introduce some unsung heroes who have beautified the Healing Garden every week for two years. Those people are the students from Diamond Learning Center.
Diamond Learning Center was founded by Jami Hamel de la Cerda in 2005. DLC is a learning center for intellectually disabled adults. The Diamond Learning Center’s philosophy for education is an individually based program catered to each student’s interests. Their hope is to instill a love of learning that will last a lifetime.
As a part of the curriculum they teach to their students, DLC advocates for helping others. Bridgette Franco, the Center’s senior director said “We take pride in reaching out in our community, and do what we can to help.” When they heard about Art of Life, DLC staff felt that our philosophy was very similar to theirs. They asked if their students could assist in the Healing Garden, hoping that they could provide Art of Life with a valuable service while allowing their students to benefit from the healing aspects of the garden.
Students participate in a variety of tasks to clean and maintain the garden, including picking up garbage, cleaning signs and benches, and weeding. Occasionally the students also perform music and drama productions. Last summer they put on a production of “Peter Pan” using the garden’s amphitheater.
To see the Diamond Learning Center students cleaning the Healing Garden is to see joyful service in action. If you paid a visit to the Garden on a Wednesday morning, the students would greet you with huge smiles and rather than handshake, a hug. Joshua is a DLC student who loves learning history. He said he enjoys cleaning in the garden because he “wants to help others”. Another student, Vincente, said “Sometimes (the garden) is a mess, so we clean it up”. Israel loves learning about computers at DLC, and when he finished his task, he walked around the garden asking his friends if they needed help. Regarding why they come every week to maintain the garden, Israel said, “We want to clean and help people. It’s important”.
What makes the service of the students from DLC all the more inspiring is the obstacles they have to overcome. Bridgette described it this way: “Many of our students have lived through illness and day to day with disability. Lending a hand to another is the simplest, most rewarding gift one can give”. Art of Life is blessed and sustained through many partnerships like the one we have with Diamond Learning Center. We appreciate their contributions more than we can say and look forward to our continued relationships with DLC and other community organizations.
If you are a part of a group who would be interested in serving Art of Life in some way, please contact us at [email protected], call us at 559.301.5606 or sign up at artoflifecancer.org