A stronger community

This year, in honour of our 20th anniversary, the Heart of the Community Award was created and presented to Maureen Franklin and Mishaal Ali. They were both nominated for our Front Yard Program and are next-door neighbours. Photo Supplied

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Throughout the summer, we encounter many examples of residents, businesses and volunteers that make our community stronger.

This year, in honour of our 20th anniversary, the Heart of the Community Award was created and presented to Maureen Franklin and Mishaal Ali. They were both nominated for our Front Yard Program and are next-door neighbours. While gardening together, they formed a strong friendship and are active in their immediate community.

Mishaal spent his childhood living in numerous countries and developed an interest in plants and animals at a young age. Exotic indoor plants became his passion and grew into a business called Ecouarium. Mishaal, his wife Yossrah, daughter Judey and son Mohammad got new neighbours last August when Maureen, her husband Roy and adult daughter Geraldine moved next door. Roy and Maureen are retired and have small-town roots that make them want to help wherever possible.

Maureen always had a garden and wanted to improve the space by their front door. This spring Roy started to build a frame for their new flowerbed. Mishaal asked if they would help him build one as well. With the help of Maureen and Roy’s daughter Nicole and son-in-law Robert, the framework for the flowerbeds were completed. Mishaal wanted to learn about outdoor plants and Maureen was happy to teach him.  Mishaal and Maureen were creative in finding similar plants and their flowerbeds thrived as they worked along side each other.  Judey (Grade 1) loves the garden, has added butterfly ornaments and knows how to weed. Mishaal was soon “adopted” by Maureen. Strong bonds formed between the two families and Judey calls Maureen and Roy “Grammy” and” Papa”.

Maureen and Judey volunteered to plant and care for a pot of flowers at the office of their complex. Roy trims the trees and shrubs around the office. Geraldine also volunteers by taking care of the flowers at Silver Birch Lodge. She was very excited when they were recognized by our Outdoor Spaces program. Mishaal and Maureen’s flowerbeds have become an outdoor living room and neighbours often stop to chat and frequently ask for advice about flowers.

Flower bed planted to honour MS

The Strathcona in Bloom bed at St. Theresa School north was planted this year in the design of the MS ribbon. Photo Supplied

The Strathcona in Bloom bed at St. Theresa School north was planted this year in the design of the MS ribbon. Orange marigolds make up the ribbon outlined by white alyssum. Country Road Greenhouses donates the flowers for this bed and MS is part of the owner, Carol Maier’s personal journey. The bed was planted to bring awareness to this silent disease and support for those living with it.  Alberta has one of the highest rates of Multiple Sclerosis in Canada. MS is sometimes called the snowflake disease as no two people have the same symptoms.

Strathcona County has great support systems with monthly MS support meetings at the Strathcona Health Unit. Recreation, Parks and Culture offers MS exercise programs. The CRISP clinic at the Strathcona Community Hospital has a wonderful group of physical therapists, occupational therapists, speech-language therapists, and psychologists to help MS clients as they go through their personal MS Journey. Friends and family provide essential support daily. Thank you, Carol, for raising awareness of MS and providing this information to share.

This column was written and provided by Strathcona in Bloom.

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