When Sherry Carson looks out into the courtyard from her room she likes to let her imagination wander.
“I look at the beautiful rocking chairs and imagine myself in them,” Carson said.
The 68-year-old resident of Summer’s Landing assisted living center in Gainesville said she and other residents are eagerly awaiting spring so they can enjoy their newly improved courtyard.
The courtyard was recently enhanced through a $12,000 grant from the Home Depot Foundation, an outreach effort benefitting veterans. Eight residents in the center are veterans. Volunteers from five local Home Depot stores, including Cumming, Toccoa, Dahlonega, Dawsonville and Clayton assisted the Gainesville store with the project.
Reece Gilmer, store manager of The Home Depot on Dawsonville Highway in Gainesville, said he hopes the residents will be better able to enjoy the space now.
“Originally, all this was small pea gravel,” Gilmer said gesturing toward the walkway in the center of the courtyard. “You couldn’t get a walker, you couldn’t a wheelchair or anything else out here. So we wanted to give them something they could at least navigate on.
“We put up this pavilion, so they can get out here in the spring time without the sun bothering them too bad,” he continued. “Obviously, we put up a flag pole. We thought that was important for the veterans.”
The volunteers replaced the gravel with flat, flagstone pavers and built a shelter at the midpoint. Several white rockers have been set up under the pavilion near bird houses and raised garden beds.
Debbie Baldwin, an architect who works part-time in the Gainesville store’s garden area, designed the space with outdoor activities in mind.
Having worked at an assisted living facility years earlier, Baldwin said she understood residents would enjoy having options for outdoor activities in the courtyard.
Several raised garden beds were built next to the walkway so residents can plant flowers or vegetables in the spring, and the space under the pavilion was made wider to accommodate more people for fellowship.
“Now they have a place where they can walk and get some sunshine,” Baldwin said. “It’s good for mental health.”
Summers Landing Executive Director Stephanie Hunt said the residents love the improved courtyard.
“Of course, it’s still pretty cold outside, so they’ve not been able to come out here and really enjoy it,” she said. “But a lot of residents look out into the courtyard from their rooms and they like how it looks. Once it starts getting warmer, we’ll do a lot of activities out here, a lot of planting flowers and reminiscing and stuff like that.”
Carson said the residents are preparing for the warm weather by painting birdhouses which will be hung around the courtyard.
“It’ll be crowded all the time because everybody loves it,” Carson said, smiling.