COLUMBIA — Water trickled from the fountain in the corner of the garden. Slowly, people circled the bricks surrounding it, searching for the names of loved ones and friends.
Many people wore purple, the color symbolizing Alzheimer’s disease.
The mid-Missouri chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association dedicated its Garden of Hope on Wednesday behind its Columbia headquarters on Bluff Creek Drive. The ceremony included a ribbon cutting, dedication and candlelight vigil.
Donors purchased engraved bricks, a floral urn and a fountain centerpiece to ornament the garden, a two-year project. Some materials for the garden were donated by local businesses and all the work was done by volunteers, said Ashley Burden, the association's communications and public policy director.
Janie Bonham lost her mother to Alzheimer’s disease. Her mother's brick reads "ya done good dearie," a phrase she used often, Bonham said.
"Yesterday I saw the brick for the first time, and it just really touched my heart and it made me cry," Bonham said. "It touches a real deep spot."
Burden said bricks, floral urns and concrete benches will continue to be sold to expand the garden.
"We’d like to see the garden continue to grow," Burden said. "More pathways, more plants, more garden elements so that we can beautify the space, create this serene garden of hope."
The Garden of Hope will support the association's programs and services, specifically the Caregiver Respite Reimbursement Program. This program provides money each month for in-home care to allow caregivers a period of respite.
Funding for the Respite Reimbursement Program has become very difficult, said program director Pam Richmond.
"We’re in hopes that the garden will provide us an extra income so that we can continue this program which is very important to caregivers, who have a 24-7 job," Richmond said.
Rockie Alden is a committee member for the garden project. She purchased a brick for her father, who has had Alzheimer’s for about six years. Alden recognizes the level of importance this garden will have in funding the respite care program.
"The money that we raise through this will allow others who need that help to get help caring for that." Alden said. "So the programs, the respite care, all those types of things this garden is going to allow."
While Alden is excited that the garden will help the program, she also appreciates its other purpose.
"It’s just a wonderful opportunity on both sides for fundraising, but then also just a wonderful place to come enjoy and remember those that you love,”"Alden said.