Seniors living in GreenTrees apartments weren’t sure what to make about the changes in their Huntley apartment complex last fall when volunteers showed up to clean up the landscape.
“They really were overwhelmed at first because change can be difficult for some seniors,” said Julie Biel Claussen, executive director of the McHenry County Housing Authority.
Now, “they are loving it,” she said. “We had a big boulder out there and it created a buzz around the neighborhood.”
There will be a bigger buzz as the landscape project continues this spring.
The housing authority is hosting a Spring Fling at the apartments, off Main Street, and is looking for volunteers to come out to help with the second phase of the project.
Phase one of the project involved cutting down trees and shrubs, mulching and seeding areas with prairie grass.
This spring, the housing authority will start planting trees and bushes and installing benches. Claussen hopes to have a pergola donated to provide a shaded area on the complex.
Because the housing authority is working with a small budget this year — about $13,000 — it needs to get volunteers to help with the planting. Last year, 15 volunteers donated six hours of work to get the area prepared and to plant prairie grass, she said.
“The community has been great,” Claussen said. “We are hoping for some more community involvement. We want it to be a community project.”
The project should get going by the end of this month or April. Huntley Trustee Pam Fender is trying to line up groups to volunteer.
“There is literally something for every age to do,” Fender said, even simple tasks like watering plants for a few weeks.
She is looking for church groups, Boys or Girl Scout troops, garden clubs and anyone else interested in volunteering. Groups will have their own project area to work on, she said.
The housing authority also is looking for donations, from materials to services.
“They are trying to stretch the grant by getting as much help as possible,” Fender said.
GreenTrees is home to low-income and physically disabled seniors.
“It is for our elderly and disabled residents. Obviously, they have limited income,” Claussen said. “This (project) gives (GreenTrees) an updated look and gives more common areas so people can gather outside and enjoy flowers and trees.”
“We really want to provide a beautiful outdoor space for them,” Claussen said. “Sometimes, the elderly tend to stay in their home. We really want to get them outside of their home.”
Anyone interested in volunteering can call Fender at 1-847-302-6772.