WESTCHASE, Fla. (WFTS) -- There is a Tampa-area teenager who saw a need for an herb garden at her grandmother’s assisted living facility, so she rolled up the sleeves and stuck her hands in the dirt.
Kelly Westmoreland grew up gardening with her grandmother Helen. It was a hobby Kelly hoped to carry on when Helen moved into Discovery Village, a facility in Westchase.
Then she found out the facility was so new that they didn’t have a garden.
So this high school senior took it upon herself to start two new herb gardens in the courtyard. She called the project Gardens For Grandparents. Her grandma was impressed.
“She loved them, she thought they were really beautiful,” said Westmoreland.
Westmoreland soon realized that tending to the gardens provided a lot more than just a hobby for the residents.
“So, gardening is a very good motor skill for the memory care residents, and it’s a daily task you have to do, so remembering that daily task and performing that motor skill is really helpful,” said Westmoreland.
Westmoreland then began targeting certain herbs to plant that would be extra beneficial for the body and mind.
“A lot of vitamins and iron and potassium,” said Westmoreland. “It’s really amazing to see that I have such an impact on people I didn’t even know a couple of years ago.”
One of those people is Pat Cowan, who was Helen’s best friend.
“I was just amazed, amazed at how wonderful she is to be cognoscenti of other people especially seniors,” said Cowan.
Kelly’s efforts were even recognized by her girl scout troop, as she was awarded the Gold Award, the highest honor a girl scout can receive.
“Of course, I felt super happy because this is what I’ve been working toward since I was in kindergarten,” said Westmoreland.
Kelly hopes her Gardens for Grandparents project inspires other teenagers to also give back to the generations that came before them.
Sadly, Helen passed away in February but her spirit lives on forever through the herb garden.
“It’s really important they are the backbone of this country and we have to help them in every way we can,” said Westmoreland.