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SIS garden project receives national grant

The Monarch Ability Garden Integrating Community and Land (M.A.G.I.C.A.L.) garden initiative at Stanly Garden groundbreaking -webIndustrial Services (SIS) in Albemarle continues to grow. The garden is among 10 similar efforts from Canada to New York to Montana that recently received a $5,000 award from Fiskars 2013 Project Orange Thumb® to further advance the community garden project.

As a leader in the lawn and garden industry, Fiskars believes in contributing to community gardening and the healthy, sustainable living it provides. Project Fiskars awards cash, garden tools and materials given to help support SIS and the other community garden goals across North America. Monarch will also receive Project Orange Thumb t-shirts and signage to display in the new growing space.

Kerry Martin, SIS site manager at Monarch who has led the effort in Albemarle, and Eileen Bress, volunteer and community coordinator at Monarch who has led the agency’s statewide gardening initiatives, believes the M.A.G.I.C.A.L. garden efforts in Albemarle, New Bern and Southern Pines will help Monarch to bridge the gaps between people with and without disabilities as well as those from various ages and cultures while raising awareness and acceptance.

“Most importantly, it is an opportunity to help Monarch to continue to foster relationships, establish more partnerships with local organizations and to build a bridge of inclusion between the people we support and the community,” explained Kerry Martin. “Area volunteers and people supported have been side-by-side hard at work to plant produce and flowers that will be available for the community to enjoy. We are so grateful for all the community support.”

Additionally, a garden advisory committee comprised of people supported and families, Stanly residents, elected officials, the N.C. Cooperative Extension and representatives from various organizations have been instrumental in helping to provide oversight as well as community involvement and participation. Those people and their affiliations are:


Jeff Reives – N.C. Cooperative Extension, Roger Thomas – Stanly County Christian Ministries, Sandy Hendrick – Monarch staff member, Benny Benjamin, person supported at Monarch, Kathy Gardner   Stanly Community College, Kim Thompson – parent of person supported and member of the Monarch Board of Directors, and Martha Sue Hall – Albemarle City Council.

This garden project has truly been a community effort. In addition to support from the advisory committee, Monarch has received 25 tons of washed granite screenings from Vulcan Materials Company in Gold Hill that will be used as a base for the pavilion. Additionally, Monarch received a $7,000 award from the United Way of Stanly County last year for the Albemarle garden project.

The Albemarle garden is one of three that Monarch will develop across the state. Monarch held a large public groundbreaking for the garden last November.

Monarch provides support statewide to thousands of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, mental illness and substance abuse challenges from more than 50 North Carolina counties. The agency is nationally accredited by The Council on Quality and Leadership and is CABHA certified. Monarch, which operates The Arc of Stanly County, is an affiliate chapter of The Arc of North Carolina and The Arc of the United States. To learn more about how Monarch is “Helping Dreams Take Flight” for people living in our communities, please call (800) 230-7525 or visit




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