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Volunteers maintain healing garden at Hospice

Posted 7/23/2015

Master Gardener Joy Mandekic tends the Nathan Adelson Hospice Healing Gardens.

Master Gardener Joy Mandekic tends the Nathan Adelson Hospice Healing Gardens.

University trained Master Gardeners assist and educate the community

Community volunteerism is the foundation for University of Nevada Cooperative Extension’s Master Gardener program. Individuals participate in a lengthy training process to become certified Master Gardeners. After training they are required to volunteer a minimum of 50 hours each year on community projects.

Three hundred fifty active Master Gardeners assist and educate the community via community projects throughout the valley. One such volunteer, Joy Mandekic, and project, the Nathan Adelson Hospice Healing Gardens, is a hidden gem.

Built in 2002, Master Gardener Mandekic was involved in the design and planning stages of the Hospice garden area. Water features, designed with water conservation in mind, were included as calming features. Each hospice room opens to a healing garden area.

“You can find family members, patients, staff and volunteers enjoying the space,” said Karen Rubel, vice president for development for Nathan Adelson Hospice. Surrounded by the beauty of the garden, they can peacefully rest, talk and share stories.

“We could never have built this amazing garden without Joy and her team of volunteers,” explained Rubel. “It is priceless!”

Before joining the program as a community volunteer, Mandekic was the Master Gardener Coordinator when the program began at Cooperative Extension over 20 years ago. Since her retirement, she became the Hospice project coordinator.

“The other Master Gardener volunteers and I tend to gardens on the second Tuesday of the month,” explained Mandekic. “During the summer, one of us visits at least once a week.”

Due to lack of irrigation, and intense, direct sun on most beds, care was given to choosing hardy, desert appropriate plants. Many herbs were selected, and some of them are considered to have healing properties.

“For instance,” stated Mandekic, “we planted mint, lavender, oregano and thyme, rosemary, and rose and pomegranate.” The focus has been on the visual, aromatic, calming characteristics of the plants, not medicinal. Intermingled throughout the garden are turf lily, asparagus fern and lantana; hardy in the toughest garden environments.

“The Hospice employees have thanked us a hundred times over and have mentioned enjoying the strawberries on their breaks,” said Mandekic. We love this feedback and will be planting strawberries again next spring.

The Healing Garden provides the four basic habitat elements needed for wildlife to thrive: food, water, cover, and places to raise young. Meeting these criteria is how this healing garden became a National Wildlife Federation Certified Wildlife Habitat in 2013.

“This was proven in 2014 as a wildlife habitat when the mallards nested in the garden,” added Mandekic, “it was high drama!”

University of Nevada Cooperative Extension is the outreach college of the University of Nevada, Reno. Cooperative Extension designs and delivers community programs to residents of Nevada with other agencies and volunteers. Cooperative Extension learns about the needs of the community and develops programs to meet them. Cooperative Extension teaches classes, holds workshops, sponsors seminars related to those needs and provides online information. Areas of education, training and instruction include Health and Nutrition; Children, Youth and Families; and Water, Horticulture, Economics and Environment.

Nathan Adelson Hospice, the trusted partner in providing hospice care and palliative medicine for more than 35 years, is the largest non-profit hospice in Southern Nevada, caring for an average of 400 hospice and palliative patients daily. In 1978, Nathan Adelson Hospice began providing home care hospice service in Southern Nevada with the mission to offer patients and their loved ones with comprehensive end-of-life care and influence better care for all in the community. In 1983, Nathan Adelson Hospice opened an in-patient hospice in Las Vegas, and today the hospice is recognized as a national model for superior hospice care.

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