Valley Life For All column: Growing in the greenhouse
Editor’s note: The Post Independent, in conjunction with Valley Life For All, continues a monthly series of profiles about people in our community who meet challenge with courage and perseverance.
David Hayes parks his brand new bike on the side of the greenhouse. He loves to ride everywhere he can. But working in the greenhouse garners just as much enjoyment. Hayes is an integral team member at the Mountain Valley Developmental Services greenhouse, where he’s working hard to prepare for the annual May sale, which begins May 7 and runs through June 4.
“I know everybody, so I get the flyers out for the sale,” says Hayes, who has cerebral palsy and unspecified intellectual disadvantages. Hayes has been with the Mountain Valley Developmental Services greenhouse for more than 10 years.
Matt Urmson, greenhouse operations manager, facilitates and works alongside people with an array of physical and mental challenges. “We don’t diagnose or focus on disabilities. In the greenhouse we focus on job skills and vocational goals. For instance, David started out mowing lawns, watering, seeding, and now he is learning marketing sales techniques.”
Community inclusion coupled with an end goal for participants to graduate and get a job in the community is what MVDS is all about. Its mission statement is “to encourage and support individuals with developmental disabilities, enhance their ability to live, learn and work in an independent and inclusive manner and to educate the community about their contributions and capabilities.”
The greenhouse participants range from 12 to 20 people per day (12 during COVID-19 restrictions), with tasks rotating every six months to learn new skills. Hayes’s favorite jobs are sales, sweeping, “and getting the word out, to let everybody know.”
Although Hayes once worked in the community, his mother, who was once on the board of directors, suggested he might enjoy the greenhouse. “We keep him busy, he makes money, and we don’t want anyone to sit at home and waste away,” says Urmson.
The greenhouse began in 1984 with herbed products. Now it rivals any commercial greenhouse with its lush flowers, greenery and vegetables nearly overtaking the boundaries of the building.
Urmson admits that operating the greenhouse can be exhausting, but it has its rewards. “It’s awesome when I see participants light up when they try something new and find out they’re good at it, or when they dance around to their favorite music while they’re working.”
“I’m very proud of the greenhouse staff and my friends,” says Hayes. “My favorite plants are geraniums and coleus. I like it here, I enjoy communicating with everyone. Everything is smooth.”
The annual May MVDS greenhouse sale runs from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Mondays through Fridays and 11 a.m. 3 p.m. Saturdays. For more information call 970-230-9704 or email MountainValleyGH@gmail.com
Local nonprofit Valley Life for All is working to build inclusive communities where people of all abilities belong and contribute. Find us at ValleyLifeForAll.org or on Facebook.
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