Getting close to nature by digging in the dirt, preparing soil for planting, and watching blooms grow into beautiful flowers can be therapeutic. Gardening can be a healing activity for victims of domestic violence. A new social enterprise program at the YWCA of Greater Flint strives to take that healing and transform it into education and opportunity.
With the support of a $17,462 grant from the Gen Forward Network, the Community Foundation's young philanthropist membership organization, Emflower is in full bloom. The farm's hoop house is located on Beach Street and clients at the YWCA are tending the gardens.
"The ladies are working hard to tend the fields of dahlias, snapdragons, sunflowers and zinnias," said Meghan Hoffman, founder of Emflower. "Flowers harvested at the farm are set for sale to local distributors, florists and to those who have subscribed to our bouquet service."
The work isn't easy, but the women are learning new skills and are earning a wage for their efforts. Hoffman, a local florist herself, provides guidance to the women, teaching the art of growing and caring for flowers and plants like strawberries and raspberries.
"Emflower is an effort to empower women survivors in a new way through self-esteem building, job skills and blooms," said Hoffman. "We have witnessed their pride in seeing the fruits of their labor. "We will continue to seek to plant future seeds of change for the women and our community."
Membership in Gen Forward Network is open to individuals ages 21-40. Dues are $200 per year for an individual; $300 for family. Membership dues are pooled and a grant is given each fall. Since 2013 when the Network was formed, $81,310 in grants have been made by young philanthropists.