Purdue University student Brock Hankins digs a hole for a plant near a sign for Cary Home on Saturday.
(Photo by Michael Heinz, Journal and Courier)

Journal and Courier
POSTED: 09-19-2004 12:24 AM EST

Students, residents work to beautify Cary Home

The potting soil, mulch, trees, plants and flowers that were added to the grounds of the Cary Home for Children on Saturday represent more than just an exercise in beautification of a prominent Lafayette location.

Nearly two dozen student residents of Purdue University's Cary Quadrangle volunteered their time and worked side-by-side on the planting project with the 14 residents of Cary Home, an adolescent treatment facility operated by Tippecanoe County.

"They get to see some people who could be role models, some older-age guys. And we get to see a side of Lafayette we don't see very often," said Matt Fontaine, a member of Purdue's Cary Club, who obtained a $1,500 grant from a university program on community service and service learning projects to pay for the planting materials.

Saturday was the first time Adam, who has resided at the Cary Home for about six weeks, had ever planted a flower. But he expects to use what he learned from the project when he returns to his own home on Tuesday.

"It's easier than I thought. I'll probably start helping my mom out at home," said the 15-year-old, who enjoyed the camaraderie with Purdue students. "I think it's a good idea. It's nice of them to come out and help the community and help us out and donate their time."

The beautification project was the result of a new partnership between the Cary Club and The Friends of Cary Home for Children.

It spruced up the grounds damaged by a wind storm in July, and was completed in time for the facility's 75th anniversary in 2005.

"We wanted to give the kids here something nice to see when they go to school," said executive director Rebecca Humphrey. "Therapeutically, growing something is a good thing. And we also hope what will grow out of this are more opportunities between Cary Quad boys and Cary Home boys."

Purdue freshman Chris Kimmell, a pharmacy major from Kankakee, Ill., welcomed the opportunity to help the Cary Home residents.

"They're dealing with things we don't have to. It gives them something to look up to," Kimmell said.

"I think it's really nice they came over to help us," said Dennis, 16, who resides at the Cary Home. "It shows their character, and this is going to look good."

Purdue horticulture professor Greg Pierceall, who selected the landscaping materials and supervised Saturday's planting efforts, plans to return to the home and conduct "horticulture therapy" with the residents.

"Getting the college kids interacting with the kids here can help. The commonality is something they can learn from," said Pierceall. "It's a good opportunity to share skills. The seeds you plant today -- who knows when they're going to grow.

"They're all creative people. They just have to figure out how to apply it and be creative in a positive way."

The Cary legacy

The generosity of one family has placed the Cary name on two facilities in Greater Lafayette.

Frank and Jessie Levering Cary donated funds for construction of Cary Quadrangle at Purdue University as a memorial to their only child, Franklin Levering Cary, who died unexpectedly in 1912 at the age of 19.

When Jessie Levering Cary died in 1927, Frank Cary provided for the opening of the Jessie Levering Cary Home for Children in her memory.