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Inspirational Healing – Community Healing Garden

As the sun shines on the artwork and the soothing sounds of the water feature trickle, Judy Reel is working hard in the Community Healing Garden at the Mercy Cancer Center – Westlakes.  In 2014, the Community Healing Garden was created with grant and private funding. There were two goals in mind – to offer organically-grown produce to cancer patients and their families, and to serve as a healing environment where patients could go to retreat, rest, and reflect throughout their cancer treatment.

Judy has been a volunteer at the garden for the past two years and she is also a cancer survivor. She spends about two hours each week weeding, watering, harvesting and bagging produce which is then delivered to Mercy Cancer Center Westlakes and to the downtown location. When asked what inspired her to volunteer, Judy said she loves to garden and recently sold her home that had a large garden. She now lives in a townhome, so she enjoys being able to come to the gardens to spend time making a difference in the health and nutrition of cancer patients.

“As a cancer survivor myself, from a spiritual perspective, it’s a good opportunity to give back to the wonderful care I’ve received through the Mercy Cancer Center.”

The growing season is not yet over. This year, the most abundant produce included Swiss chard, Brussels sprouts and cherry tomatoes. Once a hard freeze falls over Iowa, work will begin to clean up the beds and prepare them for the winter months.

Judy invites people to bring a cup of coffee and come out to the garden to enjoy the therapeutic space. In addition to the gardens, there is a beautiful fountain and artwork depicting life’s changes through the four seasons. The space is sure to provide respite and relaxation and for patients and their families.

Anyone interested in volunteering or making a gift to support the Healing Garden can contact Joan Bindel at

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