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On A Positive Note: Garden In Squirrel Hill A Place For Hope, Healing And Inclusion

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) -- You do not need a green thumb to see the possibilities growing in one garden in Pittsburgh.

It's harvest time at the Clubhouse Garden in Squirrel Hill, and KDKA's Kym Gable was invited to see how this unique blueprint for growth is impacting the community.

The garden is just one component of the Sally and Howard Levin Clubhouse, a program of Jewish Residential Services. It's a community where adults whose lives have been disrupted by mental illness come to discover and develop their strengths and abilities, build self-confidence, and gain valuable social and vocational skills.

Food and Horticulture Coordinator Hayly Hoch says the garden uses an approach that really benefits the entire community.

"Everything from inequality and poverty to sustainability and environmental issues," said Hoch. "So not only are we learning hands-on vocational skills, but we're also learning how to play a larger role in societies and our communities."

Clubhouse program participants are referred to as "colleagues." Hemang Amin is one of them.

"Just by looking at the garden, we can also focus on our five senses, and that helps brings mindfulness, bring us back to the present moment," said Amin.

And now neighbors in the community can buy fresh produce from the garden.

"We raise vegetables for the meals we prepare at the clubhouse but also for our community-supported agriculture program, which we piloted this year," Nancy Gale, the executive director of Jewish Residential Services, said.

"By the neighbors seeing them and interacting with them, it really helps in that respect. And that is our mission, to help people be fully integrated as valued members of the community," Gale added.

The garden is located behind Community Day School.

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