By: Jen Russon
After years of volunteer efforts by the Rotary Community Garden and Food Forest of Coral Springs, a memorial garden named for Helena Freja Ramsay is complete and approved by the Coral Springs city commission.
The project began shortly after Helena, and 16 others were senselessly killed at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on Valentine’s Day, 2018. Her mother, Anne Ramsay, a Coral Springs resident and active member of the community garden, worked with a fluctuating group of about ten volunteers, to create a memorial with bamboo and the bright, pollinating flowers her daughter loved.
With volunteers’ help, 17 Buddha belly bamboo trees, in memory of the 17 killed, were planted at the western border of the food forest.
For the 17 injured at the high school two years ago, a labyrinth was designed not just in tribute to them, but to provide healing meditation to anyone walking along its circular path.
Benches, an angel birdbath, extra flower beds, and shade trees have recently been added, thanks to the ongoing efforts of garden volunteers, including Eric Edwards, Jackie Ida, Elizabeth Jones, Dyrol Harding, Judith Gulko, Susan Libertore, Anne Ramsay, Jennifer Russon and Satya Rudin.
The memorial garden project gained traction when Broward Monument associate Diane Spetrino learned about the community garden and donated a granite marker.
“It was something we had to do,” she said of the donation. “It fills my heart.”
The stone was placed at the entrance to the bamboo and labyrinth and has already caught the eye of people passing through the west entrance of the Steven G. Paul Dog Park.
Weeding her plot near Helena’s memorial, Susan Liberatore said she felt compelled to kneel in memory of the 17.
“The picture of Helena is so lifelike. It just took my breath away. I am overcome with the beauty and testament to these individuals,” said Liberatore.
A formal dedication ceremony with speakers, refreshments, and rock painting is scheduled for late March, with date pending. The Helena Freja Ramsay Garden is located at the far west end of 2915 Sportsplex Drive.
- Jen Russon is a freelance writer and English Language Arts teacher. She has published two novels to Amazon Kindle and lives in Coral Springs with her family.
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