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The Pavilion

A little backstory into the very long and winding road that led to the expansion of our space at Philip Lauter Park has been provided by GROW Windham’s Director of Program Sustainability…

In 2019, before the pandemic, the youth decided that they wanted an outdoor classroom space, a path around the garden populated by educational signs and stepping stones, and a pavilion for a place to meet in the shade, to celebrate, and whatever else it could be used for.

The project got started that very year after we received funding for it from The Last Green Valley and the Community Foundation of Eastern CT. The youth began by surveying community members around Philip Lauter Park to get ideas for the design. 

A proposal was then presented to the Windham Public Works Superintendent as well as the Director of Public Works, who were very supportive of the project and said that we would just need extra funding for the pavilion. GROW Windham and the Town of Windham then decided to apply for another CT DEEP Community Garden grant, which is the same grant that funded the establishment of the Thread City Family Garden. 

An 11-month timeline was put together in order to construct this new outdoor classroom space. The timeline began in September of 2019 with community surveying, and included plans for designing and budgeting, ordering materials and getting potential construction bids, and a launch of the space at the annual Veggiestock Festival. The project was set to conclude in the Summer of 2020. There were even stepping stones made with Horizons and Quinebaug Middle College students, with tiles that were donated by local stores.

However, there was a pandemic. 

GROW Windham and youth staff members of the Windham Youth CORE worked remotely to get the project going. The signs were created, and the stepping stones for the guided path were laid out with the help of a group of AmeriCorps Volunteers. 

Due to staffing shortages, the grant to construct the pavilion was not able to be approved until January of 2022. 

Now, after persevering through all of the struggles that the pandemic provided, the Town of Windham could send out a bid for construction on the pavilion to begin. 

It seems maybe to others that nothing has happened to achieve this goal, but behind the scenes it has been a glacial process in order to make it happen. After a global pandemic, and staff turnaround, we are now poised to fulfill this promise that we made such a long time ago. The youth that are in our program today may not necessarily see the impact that they have had, but they will see eventually that they planted the seeds that others will be able to harvest down the road.

~Director of Program Sustainability

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